Part-time workers spending longer underemployed

Underemployed part-time workers in Australia are having to endure significantly longer periods of insufficient work.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is reporting that underemployed part-timers spent an average of 30 weeks without enough work to sustain themselves and their families in 2013, compared to just 26 weeks in 2012. 

Underemployment is defined by the ABS as representing "lost opportunities for people to engage more fully in work and derive financial and personal benefits". According to the ABS, underemployment does not only result in lost income; it can also impact an underemployed person's quality of life by causing mental distress.

In a statement released February 26, ABS Director of Labour Force and Supplementary Surveys Stephen Collett noted that the number of part-time workers currently classified as underemployed has reverted back to levels seen in 2010 and 2011, when the global financial crisis was in full swing. 

"Just over a quarter (912,200) of part-time workers, stated they would prefer to work more hours, with over half of these (55 per cent) preferring to find full-time work (35 hours or more)," said Mr Collett. 

The situation is particularly dire for part-time workers outside of the typical 19 – 33 age range. According to Mr Collett, "the median duration of insufficient work" for underemployed part-time workers aged between 15 and 19 increased from 21 weeks in 2012 to 26 weeks in 2013, while the same figure for those aged between 35 and 44 increased from 30 weeks to 34 weeks.

Part-time workers aged between 45 and 54 can now expect to spend an average of 40 weeks in underemployment. Any part-time worker aged over 55 will likely spend the entire 52 weeks of the year underemployed. 

Recruitment agencies looking to keep tabs on this situation and ensure candidates are receiving the ideal positions for their skills and labour requirements may want to consider investing in specialised software that can offer online timesheets and other advanced productivity solutions

This news comes just weeks after the ABS published new figures that revealed national unemployment had inched up to 6.0 per cent. 

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