Australians to Work Harder and Longer Than Ever
6 March 2015 at 2:56 pm
Australians can expect to work harder and longer with the Government predicting that the country’s population will grow to 39.7 million by 2055.
In releasing the Government’s fourth Intergenerational Report last week, Treasurer Joe Hockey said that the number of people over the age of 65 still in the workforce would grow from 12.9 per cent today to 17.3 per cent.
“Australians are living longer, healthier lives and we have one of the longest life expectancies in the world,” Hockey said.
“The Report projects that over the next 40 years the Australian economy will grow at 2.8 per cent per annum, slightly less than the 3.1 per cent per annum we saw over the past 40 years – but still a level of growth that would see Australia’s prosperity rise significantly.
“To achieve this growth, the Report highlights that we need to take the steps now to be more productive and encourage greater workforce participation.”
But despite calling for more long-term jobs for people, the report predicted that the unemployment rate would actually grow in the future.
“Over the next 40 years, the proportion of the population participating in the labour force is expected to decline as a result of population ageing,” the report said.
“Encouraging and valuing greater workforce participation, in particular amongst older age groups, presents an opportunity to further lift GDP growth per person.
“Overall, participation for all people aged 15 years and over is projected to fall from 64.6 per cent in 2014-15 to 62.4 per cent in 2054-55.
“Labour force participation rates are affected by changes in the age distribution of the population and changes in participation rates within each age group. Factors affecting each age group’s participation in the labour force, such as educational attainment, also play an important role in changes to overall participation rates.
“The changing age structure of the population will result in overall participation falling. This is because there will be fewer people in the age groups where participation is highest (the ages from 15 to 64) and more people in the age groups where participation begins to decline (people aged over 65).”
But Anglicare Australia Executive Director, Kasy Chambers, said it was unrealistic to expect that every Australian would be able to work into their older age.
“Keeping people in work for longer really depends on the kind of work that they can do, and it is simply offensive to expect labourer or cleaners with insecure or inflexible conditions to keep on year after year,” Chambers said.
“And there are real issues about the absolute dearth of jobs for people with limited capacity to work.
“We should also remember that encouraging women back into the workforce, another feature of the commentary, rests on accessible child care at one end of the spectrum and an end to glass ceilings and prejudice at the other.”
Chambers said she was particularly concerned at the timing of the release of the report.
“The social services sector has had a particularly tough year since the last federal budget and we are concerned that this report is setting the scene for more damaging cuts, which would seem to focus particularly on people out of work,” she said.
“We must not use this report as a definitive guide to the future. However, it is the entry point into the conversation we need to have about where we are going.