Jobs are growing at a faster rate for baby boomers, and Australians in their twilight years, than for youth and young adults.

These surprising statistics are revealed in a study conducted for Fairfax Media.

Since the global financial crisis of 2008, Australian jobs have grown steadily, with 870,000 jobs added to the economy. However, the growth among lifestage segments has been varied. This has led to significant attitudinal changes among workers to employment, especially among the younger Gen Z (teens) and Gen Y (young adults) segments. 

As the chart shows, among full time jobs, Gen Z and Gen Y, have lost employment since 2008Gen Z has lost 48,000 jobs whereas for Gen Y the market has shrunk by 54,000 jobs, according to labour force data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, modelled by EMDA, a business solution company, for Fairfax Media.

So what’s happened?

In any economic downturn, the young and least experienced suffer the most. Before the global crisis, Gen Z and Gen Y were known to be demanding. They were used to jobs being plentiful and so could pick and choose. Loyalty to an employer was an old-fashioned idea to them.

In the more difficult job market since 2008, there have been profound changes in attitudes, such as  delivering value to employers and concerns over the security of employment have become more prominent.

Unemployment among the younger segments is also the highest in the workforce. Among Gen Z it’s three times the average than for the rest of the workforce.

Among Gen Z there are sub-segments, which signal extremely concerning employment outcomes. Among indigenous Gen Z, unemployment rates are just over 30 per cent and among Gen Z new arrivals to Australia the rate is 42 per cent, according to census data.

Lack of education and work-related skills are major barriers to employment for these segments, and if unemployed for six months or more, it’s hard to get them into the workforce. Consequently, entrenched unemployment with its social and financial problems for the individual and society become the norm.

Education remains a key for a successful entry to the workforce.

For baby boomers, the job market has continued to be one of steady growth, with 240,000 full-time jobs added for this segment since 2008. Their experience and skills have kept them in good stead.

The real surprise is the growth in twilight careers (workers aged 63 or more). Although the smallest segment of the workforce, there are now 580,000 twilight workers employed, which is only slightly less than Gen Z (681,000). For this segment, 79,000 full-time jobs have been created since 2008. Their lifetime of work skills, their loyalty and reliability is increasingly appreciated by employers.

There is still some resistance to employing older workers, although this attitude is gradually changing.  This is good for twilight workers and the economy overall, but the downside could be there are fewer older Australians available to provide care for their grandkids. The numbers are significant: according to the census about 350,000 Australians over the age of 63 cared for other children, so more twilight workers in the paid workforce means less time available for child care duties. For Generation X parents, this can be a significant issue as one important factor which contributes to labour market participation among parents in the Gen X lifestage is access to child care.

Michael Emerson, is an economist and director of Economic and Market Development Advisors, EMDA. emda.com.au.