When the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) releases its monthly survey of the labour force, a person is only required to work a minimum of 1 hour a week to be considered as “employed”.
On the surface this might make people believe that the government is trying to manipulate the unemployment data to make the labour market appear in better shape than what it really is. But this is not the case, as the data that is gathered is broken down into different types of jobs. Full-time, part-time or casual.
Once the ABS is aware you have a job, they will ask you if you are happy with the number of hours you’re currently working or if you would like to work more hours. If you are wanting to work more hours, the ABS will record you as someone who is “underemployed”.
Underemployment is a huge problem in Australia’s economy. As it is a signal that the economy isn’t working at it’s full potential and it indicates that workers might be getting paid less than what they need in order to survive.
However, an Australian worker is only “fully employed” if they are satisfied with the currently number of hours they are working and don’t want any more.
This means that someone who is only working one hour a week can be considered be fully employed.
Underemployment is a problem in the economy. It’s a sign the economy isn’t working at full potential and workers could be getting paid less than what they need to survive.
It is also important to be aware that the definition of an employed as working “one or more hour a week” is a definition that was not created by the ABS.
It is a definition internationally recognised by the International Labour Origanisation (ILO), an agency run by the United Nations.
This organisation has been operating for a number of decades and the ILO consists of 187-member countries who all use the same definition of “employed” when gathering data about their countries labour force and employment statistics. By having the same definition for 187 it makes it easier for Australia to accurately compare their employment statistics to the workforce of other countries around the world.
What type of person would be “fully employed” despite only working one hour a week?
If you are in a position where you owned your own business, the revenue was pouring in and you only had to log onto your computer for one hour a week to check your accounts to ensure everything is running smoothly. Then you could go back to playing golf or whatever you enjoy doing when you have spare time.
Another common situation where someone might work one hour a week and consider themselves to be fully employed would be if your partner is working a full-time and therefore gives you regular income. However, you still work once a week to give your household a bit of extra money.
According to figures from the ABS, roughly 15,700 people in Australia only work one hour a week, on average. This figure is estimated to be around 0.1 per cent of all employed people.
These people are predominantly female, aged 55 and over, and running their own business or working in their family business. Roughly 72 percent of this group of workers are satisfied with their current hours which is close to 11,300 people. This means that three quarters of the people who work one hour a week are fully employed. Just over a quarter of the people working one hour a week 4,400 people would like to receive more working hours, and are therefore defined as being currently underemployed.
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