One in five part-time workers want more hours

New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revealed that 20% of Australia’s part-time workers considered themselves underemployed.

28 June 2022 

The latest ABS statistics show there were 821,000 part-time workers who preferred and were available to work more hours. Additionally, about half of the underemployed part-time workers preferred to work full-time hours (47.5%).

Most of those part-time underemployed workers wanted just another 10 hours of work while 44.4% had spent a year or more working in a job with insufficient hours.  

The ABS said the number of underemployed part-time workers has actually fallen 189,000 from 1,010,000 in February 2021 (which was 24.9% of all part-time workers). That decline was broken down into men, which fell by 95,000 from 421,000 to 326,000 (32.1% to 25.8%) and women which fell by 94,000 from 589,000 to 494,000 (21.4% to 17.6%).

“In February 2022, about half of the underemployed part-time workers preferred to work full-time hours (47.5% or 389,700 underemployed part-time workers),” the ABS said. 

“The other half preferred to work more hours but remain working part-time (52.5%, or 431,200 underemployed part-time workers). Of that, it was men aged 25 to 44 years who were most likely to prefer to work full time (73.3%), while women aged 65 years and over were least likely to prefer to work full time (8.1%).

In February 2022, 364,200 underemployed part-time workers spent a year or more working in a job with insufficient hours (44.4% of all underemployed part-time workers), according to the ABS.

Half of all underemployed part-time workers worked with insufficient hours for 39 weeks or less (median duration of insufficient hours).

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Additionally, of the 821,000 underemployed part-time workers, just under half (44.6%) took active steps to look for additional hours. More than a quarter of workers had asked the current employer for more work (25.5%).

"For underemployed part-time workers who looked for work or more hours in February 2022, the top five difficulties in finding more work related to challenges associated with the pandemic (14.5%)," the ABS said.

"There were also too many applicants for available jobs (12.1%) (down from 19.6% in February 2021), no vacancies in line of work (10.3%) or insufficient work experience and lacked necessary skills or education (7.7%).

"If a suitable job had been offered, 14.4% were prepared to move interstate, and 17.9% were prepared to move within their state or territory.

"Over half of underemployed part-time workers (53.6%) preferred not to change employers in order to work more hours."

The ABS found there were about 13.6 million employed people in May 2022, with 1,470,500 underemployed. Of these, about 305,100 people had their hours reduced – 115,100 were employed full-time and 190,100 employed part-time

There were also 108,200 people who were in both categories – they had their hours reduced to less than usual and also preferred to work more than usual hours.

In May 2022, there were a total of 16.9 million hours not worked. Of these 14.1 million hours were not worked by people who preferred more hours, and 2.9 million hours were not worked by people who had their hours reduced.

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