15 March 2012
Casual work means less housing security
Increased casualisation and job insecurity among working households has significantly undermined the housing security of low-to-moderate income home renters and buyers, research at RMIT University has shown.
Dr Sharon Parkinson has found that casual employment can be more destabilising financially than long-term unemployment.
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Research by Dr Sharon Parkinson, in the School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, explored how growing insecurity in Australian labour markets affected access to secure and affordable housing between 1992 and 2007.
Dr Parkinson said she found that the nature of the relationship between paid employment and housing had changed substantially over the past decade.
"I found that fluctuations in earnings, often associated with casual employment, can be more destabilising for some households than longer term disengagement from the labour market," Dr Parkinson said.
"This is because it compromises the capacity of households to plan for or adjust their housing payments."
The research found that private renters who are working but who are in a household where no one has permanent employment, that is everyone in their household is working as a casual or on a fixed-term contract, were found to be particularly vulnerable to experiencing housing difficulties, such as arrears in rental payments.
Purchasers relying on non-permanent employment also had a heightened risk of missed housing payments, compared to their more securely permanently employed counterparts.
"Renters in this group were also found to be significantly less likely to move into home ownership and are currently a group that fall through the housing assistance 'safety net'," she said.
"While considerable attention is focused on the issue of rising house prices, there has been less recognition of the impact that more insecure forms of employment are having on housing."
Unemployment is still obviously a concern, but Dr Parkinson concluded there needed to be greater recognition of the role of non-permanent employment and underemployment in influencing outcomes in the housing market.
"Further growth of non-permanent employment is likely to impact upon home ownership rates in the future," Dr Parkinson said.
"Younger generations, who are most likely to be working in more precarious jobs in the future labour market, will find it increasingly difficult to gain a foothold in a progressively competitive first home ownership market."