Underemployment a growing conversation

Last week’s ABS employment data raised the usual discussion about unemployment trends across the country. But one key are overlooked by many is perhaps the most worrying part of the release: underemployment is becoming the norm.

People want more work and are able to do more work – there just isn’t any for them.

Underemployment is the highest recorded by the ABS at 8.6% in August 2016 and over the past year alone, more than 30,000 additional workers are wanting more work.

The solution is more job creation, but 82.3% of all jobs created in the last year were part time. Many people who manage to find work after being unemployed are stuck involuntarily in part-time work and various casual and precarious work arrangements.

Since December 2015, businesses have increased the number of part time jobs by around 105,300, while there were 21,500 less full-time positions being offered.

Decent permanent part-time work is important for a proportion of the workforce, but we are seeing a worrying trend of insecure, precarious work for people who need full-time employment.

The Federal Government does not seem to have a plan – especially one with a solid link to decent education and training for workers that will give them the skills to do the jobs identified for our future.

The ACTU wrote to Minister for Employment Michaelia Cash in August outlining steps that should be taken to ensure working people can earn a decent living and care for themselves and their families – but we have not yet had a response.

Given that more than 200,000 Australians are now underemployed, it’s time for the Government to act now.

Date Published: 21/09/2016 Category: Opinion

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