One-third of workers not available says ABS

Age and discouragement the main factors for hefty percentage of wasted resource

March 22, 2012

While parts of the transport and logistics industries are pleading for personnel, one-third of working-age Australian are not even
in the workforce.

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)
figures released today, more than a third of them are viewed by employers as "too old" and 90,700 have given up hope of being employed.

Up to last September, there were almost 6 million people, or 33 percent of all Australians aged 15 years and over not in the labour force.

Of those, 52 percent were aged 60 years or over and 60 percent were women.

Of the 900,000 people who were not in the labour force, who wanted work and were available to start within four weeks, there were 90,700 "discouraged" job seekers - 52,300 men and 59,500 women.

"These are people who wanted to work and were also available to start work in the next four weeks, but were not actively looking for a job because they believed they would not find one," ABS researchers say.

The number of discouraged job seekers decreased again in 2011, down from 102,000 in 2010 after a peak of 111,800 workers in 2009.

"Discouraged job seekers reported that their main reason for giving up looking for work was that they were ‘Considered too old by employers’ (36 percent) ," the researchers say.

"This was followed by 'Lacked necessary skills, training or experience' (16 percent)."More than half of discouraged job seekers (56 percent) were aged over 55 years; while a further 13 percent were aged under 24 years.

There were 247,600 women not in the labour force because they were caring for children and who wanted to work but were not actively looking.

"They cited preferring to look after children and cost of child care as the main reasons for not looking for work," the researchers say.

The proportion of 25-34 year olds not in the labour force who are attending an educational institution has been rising steadily.

In 2011, 19 percent (99,900) of 25-35 year olds reported ‘Attending an educational institution’ as their main activity when not in the labour force.

This was up from 17 percent in 2009 and 14 percent in 2007.

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