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Monday, 9 July 2018

Casuals and sex

Employment growth stalling

Mandatory clickbait blog title, but not quite as exciting as it sounds, apologies - rather a brief sideways glance at the casualisation of the Australian workforce by gender. 

It will be an interesting post, though, I promise.

Roy Morgan Research reported in its employment series for June that the unemployment rate had declined to its lowest level since 2016, another small nugget of positive news. 

On the other hand, the Roy Morgan survey sees employment growth stalling, which may in time imply a further easing in the employment growth rate ahead for the more widely reported ABS numbers. 

Roy Morgan's release also reported part time employment +215,000 higher year-on-year at nearly 4½ million, which is materially higher than the ABS equivalent figure of about 4 million.

Roy Morgan discussed the increasing casualisation of the workforce and the growth of the 'gig economy', although its measures of underemployment have improved gradually through 2018.

Women on top

An interesting theme arising over the past year has been the dominance of female employment trends. 

Female employment growth of 3.2 per cent over the past year has far outpaced that of male employment growth at 1.8 per cent. 

This may in part be because the bulk of employment growth lately has been in traditional 'white collar' sectors, which now employ a greater share of females than in cycles past.

Wave of retirees?

Yet even in the male dominated industries such as construction and manufacturing, the rate of growth in employment has been skewed towards the female side of the workforce.

Justin Smirk of Westpac provided some outstanding colour to these trends in a recent Devils & Details podcast at Business Insider Australia (which, as always, I recommend listening to).

While female participation has lifted significantly over the past decade, the opposite dynamic has played out for males, with some disillusioned men having left the workforce.

It's always important to observe such trends over a period of time rather than reading too much into individual months, but Smirk also highlights how the latest tick down in male participation could indicate a wave of Baby Boomers hitting the retirement age.