Low Paid Employment In Australia

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Dunlop, Yvonne (2002) Low Paid Employment In Australia. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This thesis explores the labour market situation of low paid and unemployed adults in Australia during the mid-90s. The aim is to document evidence of the experiences of these individuals, with a view to understanding whether, in the Australian labour market, some workers may be trapped in a cycle of low pay and no pay. In short, have some workers become part of a secondary labour market in jobs where they have limited opportunities for sustained employment and earnings progression? This empirical investigation is undertaken within a dynamic framework. It unfolds evidence about the experiences of the low paid and the unemployed in the Australian labour market with both descriptive and econometric techniques and using data from a longitudinal survey, The Survey of Employment and Unemployment Patterns. The major themes examined include the dimensions and characteristics of low paid employment, earnings mobility and patterns of labour market transition of the low paid and the unemployed, job durations and the role of casual and part-time work on future employment prospects for the unemployed. Finally, this study takes a policy perspective and undertakes a detailed evaluation of how a specific government initiative may assist individuals who have become entrenched and reliant on income support in the Australian labour market. The main findings of this thesis indicate a diversity of experiences of low paid workers and the unemployed in the Australian labour market. For many, low paid work is a temporary experience. However, the cumulative evidence of this thesis also substantiates a significant negative relationship between previous unemployment, low pay and the labour market transition patterns of workers in the Australian labour market. The conclusion is that some workers are trapped in a cycle of intermittent work, involuntary job separations and unemployment. Information gathered about what may contribute to this labour market situation suggests an important role for the increasing incidence of casual and part-time work in the Australian labour market. While it is found that these jobs provide valuable work opportunities for the unemployed particularly in low paid work, the evidence suggests that over time, they may not be associated with a pathway to more secure permanent jobs. The broad implication of the findings of this thesis is that some individuals are trapped in a repeating cycle of low pay and no pay. Once entrenched, the extent to which this cycle can be broken by government intervention may be limited according to the policy evaluation undertaken in this thesis. Therefore, understanding more about this cycle and the labour market experiences of the low paid and the unemployed over the longer term should remain an important concern for policy in this country.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/231
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Centre for Strategic Economic Studies (CSES)
Keywords low pay; employment; Australia; labour market; unemployed adults
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