Fixed-Term Contracts And Employment Of Women Rising, But Incomes Stagnating: Report

Published July 31, 2019 (last updated July 20, 2020) -

Casual contracts are declining, but fixed-term contracts are on the rise according to the latest Household, Income and Labour Dynamics Australia (HILDA) survey (via the Australian Financial Review).

Across all age groups, except for the youngest 15-25 age bracket, the amount casual contracts have decreased. The survey offers a rise in the amount of full-time students as a reason for the parallel increase in casual contracts.

“There is a close link between a full-time student and casual employment, with 65% of all employed full-time students, and 74% of those aged 15 to 24 years, being on casual contracts,” the report says.

In terms of fixed-term contracts, workers in the 25-34 age bracket have seen “significant” growth. From every year since 2013, there has been an increase and in 2016 to 2017 there was a leap from 11.4% of jobs to 13.5%.

Across all age groups, fixed-term contracts now account for about 10% of the workforce.

“The more people get highly educated, in more professional jobs, such as in education and training, that is where fixed-term contracts are most prevalent,” said the report, in addition to offering that the decline of the manufacturing industry and rise of the service economy as encouraging the growth of temporary contracts.

Meanwhile, the HILDA survey also conducted research into other aspects of the economy.

Key findings included a stagnation of wages growth – the median household income in 2017 was $80,095, $542 less than 2009 when adjusted for inflation.

The average household income grew by only 3.5%, or by $3156, between 2009 to 2017, to $93,734. Between 2003 and 2009, yearly increases used to average around $3000.

“The income for someone in the middle has basically remained unchanged since 2012,” says report co-author Professor Roger Wilkins.

“That was on the back of very substantial rises, particularly in the mid-2005-to-2009 range when we saw very large increases in household incomes, but since 2012 there’s been basically no growth.”

Income inequality has also hardly budged, although people’s ability to move up and down the income brackets – income mobility – has fallen slightly since 2001.

After falling for more than a decade, poverty has begun to rise in the last two years.

The survey also found that that the employment of women is now up to 71.4% in the year 2017, growing just under 2 percentage points from 2016.

61% of women are in temporary, part-time and casual work, compared with just 37% of men.

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