After the ABS employment figure from last month I discussed the notion that Australia had taken on the an informal version of the German kurtzarbeit labour system via labour hoarding. That is, when economic weakness strikes businesses reduce hours rather than workers.
Today, the ABS released its annual Underemployment Survey which runs up to the September quarter and it found the following:
- Of the 11.5 million employed people aged 15 years and over in September 2011,
- 10.6 million were fully employed; and
- 879,000 were not fully employed, of whom 786,800 were underemployed. Of the 786,800 underemployed workers:
- 722,600 usually worked part-time, but would prefer more hours and were available to start work with more hours either in the reference week, or in the four weeks following the interview; and
- 64,300 usually worked full-time, but worked part-time hours in the reference week due to economic reasons (for example, no work or not enough work available, been stood down, or on short time).
This represented virtually no increase on the year before:
No that that alters the kutzarbeit thesis. Most of the labour shakeout has transpired since December. Which is the real message of this post. There is an underemployment rate reported quarterly in the monthly Labour Force Survey, which did climb 0.3% from Sep to Nov. The ABS needs to publish this more comprehensive report quarterly at least.