How We Work Today: The Five Biggest Takeaways From the Latest Batch of Census Info

census data australia 2022

Look sharp, nerds, it’s census day! The Australian Bureau of Statistics has bequeathed us with a fresh stack of new insights into the Australian population.

If you’re thinking ‘wait, didn’t we already have census day recently?’ you’d be correct.

We’re actually getting two census days this year, with a third coming down the pipeline in 2023. The initial batch, covering key population data, dropped back in June.

This time around, we’ve been treated to the freshly crunched numbers on employment, occupation, and how we work. Doesn’t that sound exciting? Don’t all shout at once.

While much of what the ABS releases is fairly dry and dense, it’s a wealth of information for data scientists, anthropologists, and other researchers in the public and private sectors to gain insight into exactly what Australia looks like today. Or, at least, in 2021.

The census was carried out in August last year when Australia was quite a different place to what it is today. Back then, we were in the midst of lockdowns, the first doses of the COVID jabs were still being rolled out, and Russia was a mere sinister threat, lurking in the background.

Still, much of the data is still applicable and it’s not often that we get such broad insight into how employment is shifting in Australia.

Lucky for you cats, we’ve read through the reports and condensed the juiciest info into five, informationally-rich chunks for your ease of digestion. Let’s get into it.

2.5 Million People Were WFH on Census Day

For a country of 25.8 million people, you might be surprised to learn that just 12 million people have a job. That’s right, if you’re exchanging your labour for money, you are in the minority in this country.

Of those 12 million, more than 20% of them were working from home on August 10, 2021.

This wasn’t evenly split though, with 25% of people working from home in the capital cities, while just 12.5% of people outside of the major metropolitan areas were working from home. Those in NSW and Victoria were much more likely to be working from home than those in the Northern Territory where just 4% were WFH on census day.

The impact of pandemic restrictions is clear here. In the construction industry, 15% of people in NSW worked zero hours for a period of time, while just 3% of people in construction worked zero hours across the country.

It’s a similar story in the arts, where 23% of creatives worked zero hours in NSW, compared to 5% across the nation.

Aussies are Going High Tech

The census data showed there was a huge rise in people working in science and technology.

People with a qualification in information technology increased by nearly half a million since 2016 when the last census was taken.

The fastest-growing training programmes in the tech sector are security sciences qualifications, which shot up 460%, and artificial intelligence qualifications, which grew by 200%.

The gender divide in these ‘typically’ male-dominated industries isn’t great though. Just one in five people employed in ICT is female. However, that appears to be changing, with one in three female workers in ICT in the under-30 category.

Many of our techies are migrants. Two-thirds of our software engineers and app developers were born overseas, with India being the biggest country of origin.

Software and Applications Programmers is the third most common occupation for recent overseas arrivals, with 24,000 arriving since 2016.

A Tonne of Us Work in Care

One in seven people employed in Australia work in the healthcare sector, making it one of the largest employment sectors in the country. This includes everything from mental health, to nursing, aged care and social assistance.

Nursing, which has continually suffered employee shortages, has seen massive growth. Since 2016, we’ve had a 19% increase in the number of nurses, with 260,000 of them now in the country.

Again, migration plays a key role here. 40% of our nurses and aged and disability carers were born overseas. 40,000 of them arrived in the past five years alone. It’s a much greater proportion than the Australian average of 32% of employed people being born overseas.

The role of nursing is still heavily female-dominated, however, with 88% of registered nurses being women. That’s changed just slightly, with only a 1% increase in men in the profession since 2016.

The pay gap is also evident here, with the median weekly income for a full-time male registered nurse at $1,802, compared to just $1,631 for females.

We’re All Working Less But Men Still Aren’t Pulling Their Weight at Home

A decade ago, nearly half of us in employment worked 40 hours per week or more. Today, just 38% of people work the same amount.

If you’re looking for which jobs to avoid for an easy life, definitely don’t go into mining, education, farming, or surgery. All of these professions count a median of 50 hours worked per week, with mining being the gig with the most consistently long hours.

The hardest workers appear to be in Western Australia and the Northern Territory,  where 42 to 44% of the population worked more than 40 hours a week. Tasmania seems to be the slacker state, with just 33% of the population working for the same amount of time.

What’s also clear in the data though is just how poor the gender gap is over unpaid domestic labour. In both full-time and part-time employed people, women are doing significantly more chores than men are.

Just 10% of part-time males did 15 hours or more in the garden, the supermarket, the laundry, and the kitchen. Compare that to 32% of part-time women who put in the same hours.

In full-time workers, the proportion of men doing 15 hours or more of unpaid domestic work didn’t change. For women, it dropped to 21%, but that’s still more than double what the guys are putting in.

Jobs Are Weird

Okay, so you’ve made it this far so here are some quirky insights that the ABS has dug up in their data collection. Save this one to your brains pub trivia section.

If you had to take a wild guess at what a stranger does for work, you’d be in pretty good standing by picking either health care, retail, construction, or education. Those four industries make up 40% of the labour market in Australia.

The three most popular jobs in the country are sales assistant, nurse, and ‘general clerk’. This has been the case since 2011 and remains unchanged today.

More than half of those who are able to get a qualification, have one. Over 11 million Aussies have a vocational or tertiary qualification of some sort. That means were 20% more skilled than we were in 2016.

Migrants are smarter. Straight facts: 63% of people in Australia born overseas have a non-school qualification, compared to just 56% of people born here. 82% of Indians and Bangladeshis have tertiary qualifications. Your move, locals.

Incredibly, there are still 160 people in Australia employed in video and other media rental services. That means that somewhere out there people are still renting videos and DVDs instead of binging Netflix. Wild.

Equally incredible is the rise of ‘at-home tour guides’. 17% of people employed as a tour guide somehow managed to work from home during census week last year.

And finally, if you need a drink after all that sweet, sweet data, you’ll not be hard-pressed to find one. That’s because employment in spirit manufacturing increased by 240% since 2016, while those employed in the noble art of beer manufacturing rose by 50%.

ABSolutely fascinating stuff.

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