It was interesting to note the Australian economists remarking on the Australian economy earlier this year note that in January there was a 16k increase in employment consisting of a 50k drop in full-time employment and a 66k increase in part-time work. At that time the economists were estimating a 20k increase in employment.
It’s interesting to think further on these figures and try to make some sense out of them. A 50k drop in full time jobs versus a 66k increase in part time work. And yes, in theory this might sound like we have 16k more people at work, it might actually mean that people have 2 part time jobs instead of 1.
At the same time, someone should question the maths on whether 66k part time jobs can be compared to 50k full time jobs. How much work is actually being done. I think we can multiply 50k jobs by somewhere between 32 to 40 hours per week which is the definition of full time work (i.e. eligible for benefits). Let’s use 38 hours which seems the general consensus, even though we’re constantly being bombarded with news indicating it’s likely to be in the 40’s upwards.
Looking at part time workers shows that the average hours worked continues, with average weekly hours worked according to the ABS now is up to 18 hours per week.
Ok, so making sense of a 50k drop at 38 hours, versus 66k increase at average 18 hours, leaving to an increase of 16k employment. It seems that people who work just one hour a week are counted as employed, the figures exaggerate the amount of real work.
However, this does show a longer term trend in Australian labour conditions for work to be more segmented/structured, leading to smaller blocks of work that can be bid. We can expect bidding sites such as AirTasker to continue to increase in use, as well as other sites such as AirBnb with their flow on work enabled for supporting services such as house management, meeting clients, cleaning apartments etc.
This constitutes an undergoing change in Australian labour, and to some extent this is enabled through the digitized world in which we live. If services are consumed in a digital way in this digital age, then service providers provide services in a digital manner. The provision of services in a digital manner can be accomplished as easily overseas as anywhere else.
So we can expect as the digital age progresses and increase in Gig work, and increasing trends towards digital work being done overseas in cheaper locations.