25% of Australians under 30 are working multiple jobs to survive — and it could be even worse if you count the gig economy

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  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics has found one in four Australians under 30 are working multiple jobs.
  • The data suggests more women are working multiple jobs (53.7%) compared to men (46.3%), with 19-year-olds the most likely to be taking on two jobs.
  • University of Technology Sydney’s Sarah Kaine told Business Insider Australia the number could be even larger if you look beyond employees to gig economy workers.

A quarter of Australians under 30 are working more than one job to make ends meet, according to the latest figures from The Australian Bureau of Statistics — and the number could be even bigger.

The ABS has revealed that around one in four employed people under 30 held multiple jobs at the same time between 2016-17.

Bjorn Jarvis, head of labour statistics at the ABS, said 19-year-olds are the most likely to be working two jobs or more.

The research also found more women work multiple jobs (53.7%) compared to men (46.3%) and that most multiple job holders lived in capital cities (67.2%), with 74% of them working in jobs across multiple industries. The data came from ABS research that includes more than 100 million tax records over six consecutive years between 2011-12 and 2016-17.

Asked whether the rise of the gig economy might be making an impact, Sarah Kaine, Associate Professor at the University of Technology Business School, told Business Insider Australia the figure could be even higher if you count contractors.

“Keeping in mind that gig economy work will come up as independent contracting most often, which is a different category to employment,” she said. “So it may be an even worse statistic – it might be that … one in four [people] have multiple jobs as we currently define them and then there might be a whole lot more who are also gigging contractors on the side as well.

“What we see is an emergence of low paid work that potentially makes this demographic of workers worse off because they don’t have any of the protections … or any of the benefits you would have being directly employed.”

Another main reason why Australians under 30 might be working multiple jobs is consistent wage stagnation.

“That is forcing people to think about how they make ends meet, with one of the options available being to take on multiple jobs,” she said.

Other contributing factors Kaine mentioned were that younger people tend to work in low paid industries and take up casual jobs.

Commenting on the ABS data, Australia Council of Trade Unions Secretary Sally McManus told The Sydney Morning Herald the rise in “non-standard forms of work” has led to a “crisis of insecure work”.

“The fact that working more jobs means, on average, earning less shows that people forced into holding multiple jobs are doing it out of dire need,” she said.

In June, research from Queensland University of Technology found around 7% of working Australians are also finding jobs through the ‘gig economy’, according to AAP, accessing a variety of platforms such as Airtasker and Uber to do so.

QUT found New South Wales to have the highest level of gig economy workers (7.9%) followed by Victoria (7.4%). But while workers reported high satisfaction in these platforms because of its flexibility, they were less happy with their incomes.

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