People working multiple jobs hits record high

author-avatar By on September 08, 2021
People working multiple jobs hits record high

New ABS data shows the proportion of employed people working more than one job increased 6.5% in the last quarter.

It is now 0.6% higher than the start of the pandemic, and the highest on record, with data going back to 1994.

This, along with job vacancies data, suggests there are more jobs, but fewer are for full-time employment.

"Analysis of both [the] Labour Force Survey and Labour Account statistics suggests that while there are more multiple job holders, the average hours they work in their secondary jobs has decreased over the COVID period," ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said.

"Average hours worked by multiple job holders in their secondary jobs was 9.5 hours per week in June quarter 2019, 9.3 hours in June quarter 2020, and 9.1 hours in June quarter 2021."

Hours worked

Hours worked had increased by 1.8% in the June quarter, surpassing pre-pandemic levels for the first time.

The strongest results were seen in retail trade, construction, and accommodation and food services.

Hours worked were higher than pre-pandemic levels in nine out of 19 industry divisions.

Compared to the March quarter, too, there was a 33.4% uptick in job vacancies, which compared to June last year is 189% higher.

"This proportionally large increase in job vacancies resulted in the proportion of vacant jobs rising sharply to 2.6%, the highest recorded in the 27 years of the series," Mr Jarvis said.

Explaining underemployment

Underemployment, as part of the labour force series, remains elevated at 8.3% - 3.7 percentage points higher than unemployment.

In the 1980s it was as low as around 2%, and recently it has continued to track up despite unemployment trending down.

A paper released by Reserve Bank economists in June this year highlighted why undermployment is an increasingly important figure, and why underemployment has tracked higher over the past few decades.

"Underemployment in Australia has been increasing for several decades, driven by both structural and cyclical factors; in contrast, over the same period the unemployment rate has fluctuated but has broadly moved lower," they said.

"The probability of moving from sufficient employment to underemployment increased relatively sharply in the 1990s recession and the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), only gradually moving lower in periods of labour market strengthening such as the mid 2000s.

"On average during 2019, around three-quarters of people who became underemployed did so after having most recently been sufficiently employed.

"Around half of people who became sufficiently employed did so by exiting the pool of underemployed people, rather than being drawn in from the pool of non-employed people."


Photo by Kaihao Zhao on Unsplash

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Harrison is Savings.com.au's Assistant Editor. Prior to joining Savings in January 2020, he worked for some of Australia's largest comparison sites and media organisations. With a keen interest in the economy, housing policy, and personal finance, Harrison is passionate about breaking down complex financial topics for the everyday consumer.

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