Labor Market: Gap Opens on Both Sides

There is a clear trend towards part-time work, although it is partly “forced” and partly desired. According to figures released Tuesday, 75 percent of employment growth last year came from an increase in part-time workers. The number of full-time employees increased by 0.3 percent, or 9,700, while the number of part-time employees increased significantly by 2.3 percent, or 30,800.

One in eight men (13.4 percent) and one in two working women (50.6 percent) said they had worked part-time in the previous year, Statistics Austria reported. It usually arises from family circumstances. Nearly 40 percent of women cited caregiving responsibilities as a reason. Lack of childcare options, especially in rural areas, is a key factor.

Exemption is also accepted

According to 2023 data, 61.7 percent of childless women aged 25 to 49 work full-time, but only 10.4 percent of women with children under three. According to Statistics Austria, “this effect cannot be determined” for men with children. Also: “Not all 1.4 million employees who work part-time do so voluntarily”. Last year, 205,000 employees (14.8 percent) wanted to increase their working hours.

However, there is still a clear counter-trend, namely “a preference for fewer working hours per week”, expressed by 21.3 percent (659,000) of those working on a full-time basis, even after accepting a financial loss. , as stated in the broadcast.

Generational change leaves a gap

According to Statistics Austria in the main topic “Focuses on the labor market”, the second gap left by the trend towards part-time work is the withdrawal of baby boomers from the labor market. The “below-average labor force participation rate of the over-55s” represents “another structural challenge,” although this has increased significantly in recent years.

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According to current data, the number of employed people between the ages of 55 and 64 increased significantly between 2004 (27.1 percent) and 2023 (57.3 percent). However, in international comparisons, Austria still lags significantly behind the EU average.

Discussion of different “possibilities”.

Earlier in the month, ÖVP Economy and Labor Minister Martin Kocher said there was a “great potential” for increases in part-time hours for women's employment before retirement. Located in the settlement of workers, unemployed and many others.

The graphic shows the employment rate and the part-time rate in the EU in comparison

Graphics: APA/ORF; Source: Statistics Austria/Eurostat

As a result, according to Statistics Austria, “in the current discourse, older people are often referred to as a potential reservoir to overcome the shortage of workers and skilled workers”. However, once employees leave working life, it is “difficult to bring them back into the labor market under given conditions”.

Barriers to return to the world of work

Only a small percentage of 55- to 64-year-olds intend to return to work, and only 5.7 percent of 60- to 64-year-olds. In addition: “Not everyone can work immediately.” The data is based on the European Labor Force Survey (LFS).

According to the survey, half of 55- to 59-year-olds said they could no longer work because of illness or disability, with men slightly more likely than women. One in ten women attributed caregiving responsibilities, “For men, caring responsibilities play no role.”

Austrians work fewer hours than the EU average

Compared to the EU, in 2022, 77.3 percent of 55 to 64-year-olds are still employed in Sweden, 73.3 percent in Germany, the EU average is 62.3 percent, and Austria ranks 19th in the EU, up from 56.4 percent two years ago. -27, Luxembourg is at the bottom with 46.6 percent.

Graph of unemployment rate since 2012

Graphics: APA/ORF; Source: AMS

According to Statistics Austria's micro-census, the number of unemployed rose to 240,900 in the previous year, as did the number of employed by 4.5 million. At 206,400, the number of job vacancies was “reduced, but at a very high level”. Labor shortages are predicted to “intensify in the future” due to demographic change.

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