Young Aussies Are Stuck In Part-Time Work

New report

Article heading image for Young Aussies Are Stuck In Part-Time Work

Bright/Kauffman/Crane - Friends

Young Australians are stuck in "part-time purgatory" with 44 per cent of all 20- to 24-year-olds not in full-time work, according to a new report.

Part-time employment has quadrupled in the 40 years since 1978, hindering young people's ability to build strong financial foundations, the Brotherhood of Saint Laurence said in its latest Youth Unemployment Monitor.

"Young Australians today face job challenges their parents and grandparents simply could not have imagined," Brotherhood executive director Conny Lenneberg said in a statement.

"The combination of stubbornly high youth under-employment and unemployment poses enormous risks, especially for young people experiencing disadvantage."

Using Australian Bureau of Statistics data, the report released on Monday found 20-somethings were hit particularly hard by "extreme job insecurity" and recommended taking into account both unemployment and underemployment to get a better understanding of how people were faring.

The growth in part-time work was attributed to the shift towards a service economy - industries such as hospitality, beauty therapy, fitness, child care, security, sales and labourers.

"Australia has entered its 28th year of uninterrupted economic growth, but the prosperity dividend has not been shared fairly with our young generation and they face many new uncertainties," Ms Lenneberg said.

Youth unemployment for 15 to 24 remains "stubbornly high" at 11.2 per cent as of October 2018, while under-employment for this age group exceeded 18 per cent.

The increase in part time work did not coincide with a rise in young people studying, either, and it could take more than a year for people to move into full-time employment.

Under-employment, having part-time work but wanting more hours, meant young people suffered in trying to set themselves up financially in the long term, the report warns.

"As a nation we must intensify our efforts to tackle this deep challenge, and as a start, policymakers should move to offer all job hunters aged 15 to 25 a specialist youth employment service rather than the nation's current fragmented response," Ms Lenneberg said.


  • In 1978 fewer than 10 per cent of 20-24 year olds who had a job worked part time. In October 2018 it was 44 per cent, or up to 550,000 young workers
  • In October 2018, 15.9 per cent of workers aged 20-24 were underemployed compared with only 2.4 per cent in 1978
  • 53 per cent of women aged 20-24 were working part time, up from 15.8 per cent in 1978
  • 13.8 per cent of men aged 25 and up were in part time work, compared to 3.9 per cent in 1978

Source: Brotherhood of Saint Laurence Youth Unemployment Monitor

2 December 2018

Listen Live!

Up Next