Australia has experienced the biggest expansion of casual employment in the country’s history, according to new analysis that suggests the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been “starkly unequal”.
And the Australia Institute, which carried out the analysis, has argued the government’s planned industrial relations changes will only “reinforce the growing dominance of insecure work in the labour market”.
It says casual jobs accounted for 60% of all waged jobs created since May, while part-time work accounted for nearly three-quarters of all new jobs.
Meanwhile “very insecure positions” – including in the gig economy – were responsible for the rebound in self-employment.
The early months of the pandemic “highlighted stark fissures in Australia’s labour market”, with casual workers losing employment eight times faster than those in permanent jobs.
The report points to an “encouraging” rebound in employment after May – replacing over 80% of the jobs lost in the initial downturn - but it says this turnaround has been dominated by insecure positions.
“Casual employment grew by over 400,000 positions between May and November – an average of 2,200 new casual jobs per day,” the report says. “That is by far the biggest expansion of casual employment in Australia’s history..."
While pre-pandemic employment levels have recovered for workers over 35, younger workers are still suffering significant job losses.
Women suffered disproportionate job losses when the pandemic arrived, and that gender gap had yet to be closed.
“Women’s employment, unemployment, underemployment and participation all remain significantly weaker than for men.”