Young buyers missing out on homes

WHILE couples over 65 years old are now the nation's wealthiest, the dream of owning a home is increasingly out of reach of younger Australians.

The latest annual University of Melbourne HILDA report has revealed that in three to four years, less than half of all Australian adults will own their own home.

The report measures income, employment, family life and health, based on interviews with 17,000 Australians to gain a detailed look at the nation.

Report author Roger Wilkins said the number of owner-occupied houses also fell 3.5 percentage points between 2001 and 2014 - or about 700,000 homes.

It also shows an increasingly divided Australia - where nearly 20% of single parent families are going without while many couples over 65 own at least one residential property.

"The data exposes some painful realities in many of the nation's households," Prof Wilkins said. "We're seeing high poverty rates for single-parent families."

Despite disposable income rising on average 25% between 2001 and 2014, from $58,000 to $76,000, it also showed nearly 70% of households had received some sort of welfare payment during that period.

And parents of young children decrying the cost of childcare seem to have something real to complain about.

The report showed parents were paying, in real terms, more than double the childcare fees in 2014 that they were in 2002.

"This is despite 25% of families relying on grandparents for childcare, who provide an average of 14 hours of care per week," Prof Wilkins said.

The report also found small businesses were employing fewer people, but those that did were more likely to employ men, older workers and trade workers.

Those jobs also tended to be lower paid than those in bigger firms, and more likely to be part-time or casual, rather than full-time.

Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia was funded by the federal Department of Social Services.