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Australia – Fewer independent contractors in job market

19 April 2013

The number of people working as independent contractors in Australia has dropped over the last two years, according to a report released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). This is mainly due to fewer male contractors working in the job market.

The statistics show that in November last year, almost 980,000 people were employed as independent contractors in their main job. This represents a decline of 47,000 from a year ago. The number of independent contractors also fell between 2011 and 2010 by 83,600, the ABS said.  

Cassandra Gligora from the ABS said “the decrease was mostly driven by a decline in the number of male independent contractors, down from 824,400 in 2010 to 716,500 in 2012.” The industries with the highest proportion of independent contractors are construction and administrative and support services.

The statistics bureau also found in a survey that independent contractors were more likely to have a say in their start and finish times than employees, but they were more likely to work longer hours and on weekends.

“Most (83%) independent contractors had a say on their start and finish times compared to only 39% of employees, however one in nine (11%) independent contractors usually worked seven days a week, compared with just 4% of employees,” Ms Gligora said. “They were more likely than employees to work on both weekdays and weekends (42% compared with 30%).”

She added that “independent contractors were more likely to work longer hours than employees. Almost a quarter of independent contractors (24 per cent) reported that they worked 49 or more hours a week, compared to 12% of employees.”

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