Insecure Work in Australia Fact #3: Falling Hours of Work

A consequence of the growth of part-time work and underemployment is a decline in the average hours worked by employed Australians. Hours worked per employed Australian fell by more than one hour per month over the past five years, to 139.7 hours per month in 2017.

Average Hours Worked per Month

Source: Centre for Future Work calculations from ABS Catalogue 6202.0, Tables 1 and 19.

The inadequate hours of work received by many Australians compounds the problem of low and stagnant wages paid in many jobs, creating a two-pronged crisis in incomes. Of course, if accompanied by rising wages and improved job security, then shorter average working hours could be a positive development (allowing workers better opportunity to balance work and home life). But in the current context of stagnant wages and growing precarity, this trend is an indicator of underlying weakness in labour markets — not a sign of forward progress.[1]

Another dimension of inadequate hours is the significant number of Australian workers who work very short hours: on average almost 700,000 Australian workers worked less than 10 hours per week in 2017, and another 1.1 million worked between 10 and 19 hours per week. The incidence of very short hours of work has grown notably among men in recent years (in line with growing male part-time work and underemployment).

Read Full Report on Dimensions of Insecure Work

[1] The ironic coexistence of large numbers of Australians who don’t get enough hours of work, with a proportion who would prefer to work less hours, is discussed further in Tom Swann and Jim Stanford, “Excessive Hours and Unpaid Overtime: An Update,” Centre for Future Work, November 2016,

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