The nature of Australia’s workforce has been changing for decades. Workers may be more challenged, more productive, and more skilled than ever before. But for too many, job insecurity is a constant cloud that affects their ability to plan for their future, provide for their families, and engage in their local economies to the fullest extent. While Australia’s headline economic statistics have long looked rosy, they can at times mask the granular reality of an economy that doesn’t work for so many Australians. While unemployment may be low, underemployment and the underutilization rates for workers is high. And while more Australians may be in the workforce than ever before, so too are more Australians working without basic workplace entitlements – like superannuation or leave. Combined with the broad nature of economic disruption, these trends provide a volatile environment for Australian workers to find their feet. And poor policy prescriptions have only exacerbated this reality.
This discussion paper outlines the nature of insecure work in Australia. It defines how we got here, and what the impact of such widespread workplace insecurity is on Australia’s workers and its economy. It also concludes by striking a note of optimism: while policy choices may have helped foster an Australian economy where too many feel insecure in their job, so too can different choices help arrest the trend, and provide a better deal for the Australian workforce.
SOURCE: Alexander, Lillian. “Understanding insecure work in Australia” McKell Institute, 2019.
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