NEWS

Aussies Are Overworked, But We Still Can't Afford A Home: 2017 Welfare Report Card

One in five Australian men work more than 50 hours each week.

19/10/2017 7:01 AM AEDT | Updated 19/10/2017 8:02 AM AEDT
PeopleImages via Getty Images
Australians are working longer hours than most other OECD nations.

Australians are working longer hours than most other OECD nations, yet fewer and fewer of us can afford to buy our own home and more people are in severe rental stress.

These are among the findings of the 2017 Welfare Report Card report being launched in Canberra on Thursday by the Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs, Senator Zed Seselja.

"Australia's Welfare 2017 shows that while we have made some inroads into achieving work-life balance, we are still among the bottom third of OECD countries when it comes to working long hours," the Director and CEO of the government body behind the report, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Barry Sandison said.

One in five men and one in 14 women work more than 50 hours a week.

This is an improvement on a decade ago, when it was one in four for men and one in 12 for women, but nevertheless makes us the ninth worst of the 35 OECD nations when it comes to overworking.

We're also increasingly working into our twilight years, with 13 percent of Australians over 65 still in the workforce -- up from just five percent in 1986.

HuffPost Australia / AIHW

But according to Sandison, what is more detrimental to our wellbeing than working too much is whether the number of hours worked matches up with the employee's desires.

"Regardless of the number of hours worked, if an individual's preferences did not align with their working hours, they reported lower levels of satisfaction and poorer mental health than individuals whose preferences aligned with their working hours," he said.

It's concerning then that the numbers of Australians who are underemployed -- that is, working fewer hours than they would like -- is at the highest level since the 1970s.

With one of the highest ratios of part-time workers in the world, one in ten Australian workers want to work more hours than they currently do.

Yet despite Aussies' dedication to their jobs and steadily rising disposable incomes over the past three decades, it seems that the "Great Australian dream" of the quarter-acre block and white picket fence is more out of reach than ever.

Home ownership is at the lowest rate since the 1950s. In just a decade, the number of 25 to 34-year-olds who own a home fell from 51 percent to 45 percent.

And its not just the young who are struggling to save for six-figure deposits and finance mortgages. The number of 35 to 44-year-olds who own a home also fell six percentage points to 62 percent, while overall home ownership fell by six percent.

That may be unsurprising, given that more and more Aussies live in major cities like Melbourne and Sydney, where house prices have skyrocketed by 99.4 percent and 85 percent respectively since 2009.

According to the latest OECD biennial survey, house prices in Australia have increased by 250 percent in real terms since the 1990s.

carolthacker
More than one in three (38%) Australians experiencing homelessness are fleeing domestic violence.

But with a corresponding 62 percent increase in rental prices, its bad news for our wellbeing. With the average rental costing $144 more than it did a decade ago, half of Australian renters on lower incomes are in rental stress, spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

And its pushing more people into poverty and homelessness.

The number of people, predominantly women and children, made homeless because of domestic violence has increased by 33 percent since 2011 to make up more than a third (38 percent) of all homeless, the report found.

Public housing is also struggling to keep up with the demand. There are 195,000 households on the waiting list for social housing, with almost half having waited for more than two years.

More On This Topic