Dads Commuting More, The Most Unhappy With Life

Commute times are way up in Australia and dads are among the most unhappy with their job, pay and work-life balance, a startling new insight into Australian society has revealed.

The latest data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey shows incomes are down, poverty is up, social mobility has reduced, wage growth is slowing, and people are taking longer to get to work than at any point since 2002.

The annual HILDA survey has been tracking 17,500 people in 9500 households since 2001, revealing insights about trends in Aussie society. The 2019 report shines a light on a number of concerning social indicators around inequality and quality of life.

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Household disposable income is going backwards. Aussies are struggling to find a proper work-life balance. Depression and anxiety are on the rise. Young people are forced to stay living with parents for even longer.

"On average, [Australians]  had a commuting time of around 3.7 hours per week in 2002, and now we're up to four and a half hours a week," Melbourne University's Dr Inga Lass said.

Workers Commuting
The number of hours works spend commuting has increased. Photo: Getty Images.

The report, released  Tuesday, shows people in  mainland capital cities have the longest commutes -- an average of 66 minutes a day to and from work, with Sydney leading at 71 minutes a day.

"Fathers with two children are the ones who have longest commutes," Lass said.

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Those who spend more than two hours a day commuting are less satisfied with their jobs, and more likely to expect to leave their job within the next year.

"They are also less satisfied with their working hours, with the flexibility to balance work and life, and they're even less satisfied with their pay," Lass said.

Man at train station
Men with two children typically have the longest commutes. Photo: Getty

The HILDA report found that while wages are not going up -- mean household income has grown only 3.5 percent since 2009, far below inflation -- lots of other things are. Like childcare costs, which have spiked 51 percent (adjusted for inflation) since 2003.

The median household annual disposable income in 2017 was a tick over $80,000, the report stated.

This has been coupled with an increase in poverty. In 2016, the rate of relative poverty -- people earning 50 percent below the median income -- was 9.6 percent, and that crept up to 10.4 percent in 2017.

Photo: Getty

Housing affordability concerns were also raised, with 56 percent of Australian men aged 18-29 living with their parents. This is a big increase on the 2001 figure, of just 47 percent. For all Australians 18-29, the rate of living at home is at 54 percent, way up from 37 percent in 2001. Just 18 percent of men in that age bracket are married living outside the family home.

In mental health, HILDA's authors noted a "substantial" increase in people reporting depression or anxiety, particularly younger people. In 2017, more than one-fifth of women aged 18-29 reported experiencing those conditions, up from 13 percent in 2009.

Elsewhere in the report, 11 percent of adults reported having used cannabis.

With AAP.