Working hours increase since GFC, as Westpac tips wage growth dip

Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water. Few Australian jobs may have been lost due the GFC but it appears we have been working more just to keep them as this article tells us.


From Smart Company Thursday, 17 November 2011 ByMadeleine Heffernan

You’re not imagining it – working hours have rapidly increased since the global financial crisis.

According to the AMP.NATEM Income and Wealth Report, “more Australians have fallen into a pattern of work that requires an early start or a late finish (or indeed both)”.

The report, which is based on an analysis for the ABS Time Use survey and the Household Income and Labour Dynamics of Australia survey, finds that both part-time hours and full-time hours in paid employment “have shown a rapid increase in the past two years”.

Women are found to work an average 38.6 hours per week, and men 42.3 hours per week – between two and three hours more than they did in 1985.

Still, today’s working hours remain below the peak in the year 2000, when men worked an average of 43.4 hours and women an average of 39.3 hours per week.

And the 2009 average of 23.5 hours – including both part-time and full-time workers – broadly matches the average weekly hours of OECD countries.

The report, entitled Race against time – How Australians spend their time, finds that part-time hours have risen from 1985 to 2011 for both men and women, from 16.4 to 17.8 hours for women and 15.8 to 17 hours for men.

“However, when examining trends in full-time hours over the last 10 years, a pattern of decline is evident,” it says.

“Men working full-time in 2000 averaged just over 43 hours per week and women just over 39 hours. A steady decline has seen men’s full-time hours decrease by two hours each week, to just over 41 hours in 2009.

“Women working full-time have also decreased their average full-time hours to just under 38 hours in the same period. The sharper decreasing trend in full-time hours, from 2007 and bottoming out at 2009 is likely to be an impact of the global financial crisis, with employers often reducing employee hours in times of economic decline.

“Since 2009, we can see average full-time hours for both men and women increasing steadily, yet still below the year 2000 peak.”

State by state, Sydneysiders are found to spend the longest commuting, while Canberra residents worked the shortest hours despite attractive pay levels.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released this morning show that average weekly earnings lifted by 1.2% to a seasonally adjusted $1352.60 from May to August.

This was above expectations for a 1% rise, and took the annual rise to 5.3% annually adjusted.

A separate wage price index revealed that wages rose by a slightly lower than expected 0.7% in the third quarter, taking the annual rise to 3.6%.

Westpac says the result, driven by a muted 0.5% quarterly rise in public wages, is consistent with a “softer but not collapsing jobs market.”

“We are not seeing the wage pressures that many feared from Mining Boom mark II.”

“Westpac’s forecast for further weakness in the labour market in the months ahead will act as a break on workers’ wage claims going forward,” the bank says, tipping wages growth to moderate to 3.5% for 2011, before dropping to 3% in 2012.”

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