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One in five part-timers are underemployed

Press Release – Statistics New Zealand

In 2017, one in five (20.6 percent) part-time workers wanted and were available to work more hours, Stats NZ said today. Underemployed people are those who work part time (fewer than 30 hours a week), but want and are available to increase their hours.

25 June 2018

In 2017, one in five (20.6 percent) part-time workers wanted and were available to work more hours, Stats NZ said today. Underemployed people are those who work part time (fewer than 30 hours a week), but want and are available to increase their hours.

There were 112,300 people who were underemployed in 2017 – 63,000 of them were actively seeking more work.

Some 65 percent of underemployed people wanted to move into full-time work (30 or more hours a week); 35 percent wanted more hours but were willing to remain part-time.

The average (median) time usually worked by underemployed people was 15 hours a week. If they could have chosen their own hours, they would have opted to double that to 30 hours per week.

The following diagram shows the definition of underemployment and the relationship between underemployment and underutilisation.

“Underemployed people make up a third of the underutilised potential in New Zealand’s labour market,” labour market manager Sean Broughton said.

“Despite our labour market being ‘tight’, these people are unsatisfied with their level of participation. People who are underemployed are of interest to both potential employers and to policy-makers.”
In June 2017, underemployed people earned an average of $302.30 a week for 15 hours work. In comparison, part-timers who were not underemployed were earning $440.36 a week for 16 hours of work.

In the 2017 year, more than half (66,400) of underemployed people gave ‘a lack of available work’ as their reason for not working the hours they would like. This lack included the type of work they wanted, the hours they were available for, or the location they could travel to.

For part-time workers, some groups were especially likely to be underemployed: people under 30 years (28.3 percent), Māori and Pacific peoples (31.2 percent and 29.3 percent, respectively), and parents with dependent children.

Part-time workers with jobs in the retail trade and accommodation, or the arts and recreation industries were more likely to be underemployed. For occupations, part-time machinery operators and drivers, labourers, or community and personal service workers (including hospitality staff) were more likely to be underemployed.

People employed on a casual basis had far higher rates of underemployment than those on permanent or fixed-term contracts.

Text alternative for diagram, The underemployment measure in 2017

Diagram shows the definition of underemployment and the relationship between underemployment and underutilisation, with data for 2017.

Employed (2,567,900) made up of Part-time (less than 30 hours) (546,600) and Full-time (30 hours or more) (2,021,200).

Part-time made up of Want more hours (136,000) and Don’t want more hours (400,300).

Want more hours made up of Not available (20,400) and the three underemployed categories of Available (112,300), Unemployed (126,600), and Potential labour force (98,600).

The three underemployed categories combine to Total underutilisation (337,600).

Figures have been rounded to the nearest hundred. Due to rounding and respondents not supplying definite answers, individual figures may not sum to stated totals.

Authorised by Liz MacPherson, Government Statistician, 25 June 2018.

For more information about these statistics:
• Visit Characteristics of the underemployed in New Zealand

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