Teenagers bear the brunt of unemployment rise

By Leith van Onselen

The Brotherhood of St Laurence has today released a new report on teenage unemployment, whereby one-in-five teenagers are now unemployed:

More than 290,000 Australian youth aged 15 to 24 were categorised as unemployed in January. The worst hit were the 15 to 19 year olds, with the unemployment rate for this group hitting 20 per cent – a level not seen since the mid 1990s. Nearly 160,000 Australians aged 15 to 19 were unemployed in January, out of an overall pool of more than 780,000 unemployed.
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If you are 15 to 24 and looking for work, your probability of finding a job has steadily declined since the global financial crisis. Compared with other Australians, teenagers are less likely to move into a job from month to month and are more likely to fall into unemployment from month to month…
The chance of finding a job has been declining since the GFC. The probability of finding a job fell sharply for 15 to 19 year olds: by early 2015, less than 15 per cent of the unemployed in this group moved from unemployment into employment from one month to the next.
This level is similar to that observed for this group in the early 1990s and is well below the overall job-finding probability.
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Our analysis shows that young people are more likely to exit jobs than the rest of the population (Figure 3). This is especially true for the 15 to 19 year olds, for whom this probability is now more than 2.5 times that of the overall population.
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Our findings on the educational levels of unemployed people are striking.
Since the GFC, based on the HILDA data we found the proportion of the pool of unemployed people with less than Year 12 has declined… Meanwhile, the proportion of unemployed people with some tertiary education has increased since 2010.
The findings in this report should be another wake-up call for the Abbott Government, whose draconian work-for-the-dole measures, along with its plan to make it more difficult for under-30s to receive unemployment benefits, have sought to pour more salt on the wounds of Australia’s unemployed youth.
It also highlights the egregiousness of the Abbott Government’s open slather approach to foreign working visas, which is adding to labour supply at a time when labour demand is weak and there is already a large pool of under/unemployed, whilst also discouraging employers from taking on and training local workers.

With unemployment likely to worsen significantly as the mining investment boom unwinds and the local car assembly shutters, opportunities for Australia’s youth are likely to worsen further, which risks leaving an entire generation without hope and disillusioned.

These events will also require a large scale ‘reskilling’ of the workforce, which is highly unlikely to occur under current policy settings, which discourages on-the-job training in favour of a quick foreign worker fix.

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  1. We need a job guarantee for all youth to 25 years.

    No dole, just a guarantee of work and part time education to rememdy defective basic skills and teach “getting a job and staying employed’ skills.

    The idea of allowing the capabilities of those young people to wither and to forgo any benefit from their capabilities is a huge waste and sets them up for a lifetie of marginal employment or welfare.

    I’d sooner see the old and sick on benefits, including a volunteer payment for retiring and volunteering prior to being eleigible for the pension, than seeing youth set up for a lifetime of see-sawing between marginal employment and sould destroying welfare.

    • Agreed 200%. There are a few dirty memes going these days. The worst is that unemployment is not an absolute evil. The second is that rising house prices are an unconditional good.

      The way we are treating the young, we’re starting to look like a future-eating society.

      • Indeed; it ain’t the 20th century Europe anymore, where you could whip up a bit of nationalism and send millions off to be slaughtered.

        Modern democracies are losing the (to use a cliche) hearts and minds of more and more people. This is a massive problem. We need solutions.

        Some of those solutions will piss-off the oldies (a huge voting bloc in all Western countries). But if they don’t happen, the future is very, very unpredictable as young people increasingly lose loyalty to their home countries.

  2. reusachtigeMEMBER

    Who can be bothered employing yoof when you can either send their sort of jobs overseas or bring someone in from overseas to do the job. We should be considering profit maximization over worrying about yoof. They’ve got years ahead of them to plan their investment strategies.

    • When they can make a handsome robot reus’, your replacement shall be nigh.

      Skills are already taken care of.

    • Plus, they’re all lazy and self-entitled. If they all bought one less iPhone, they’d be able to afford a house near a job, and a car, and 2 kids.

      It’s all just laziness and greed as far as I can see with the yoof of today.

  3. Youth unemployment is a bigger problem than any concerns about the female participation rate. However regularly various bodies promote various means to increase the latter with little regard for the former.

    Youth unemployment rates are generally high in near all modern economies – what is going wrong?

    • 3D, I know I’ve given you grief in the past, but I’m very pleased to say that on this point, I heartily agree. Something is going very wrong.

    • drsmithyMEMBER

      Youth unemployment rates are generally high in near all modern economies – what is going wrong?

      * High levels of “skilled” immigration.
      * Older workers not retiring.
      * Wage suppression.
      * Outsourcing of work.
      * Number of jobs shrinking.
      * Employers not prepared to train staff.
      * Little (and continually reducing) job security.

      Basically, everything you stand for and advocate.

      • Lest we forget:

        * Destruction of publicly funded education
        * Automation
        * Deskilling of production processes

      • +1 drsmithy.

        We are reaping the “efficiency dividend” of the last 40 years of neo-liberal economics and it doesn’t look nice. 17 years of wage stagnation will wreck a hell of a lot of retirement plans.

        If the stooges running the place realised that getting a decent turnover of the old farts desperately clinging to employment to try to avoid starving to death when they’re forced out of the workforce we might get somewhere. If the old farts could seriously consider selling their homes instead of hosting their 20-30 year old children indefinitely, or re-mortgaging to get their kids out of the house. We’re stuck in a demographic holding pattern until the bastards start dying and our political class get some measure of representation back in their politics.

      • UteMan,

        We’re stuck in a demographic holding pattern until the bastards start dying

        They don’t need to start dying, they just need to be too sick to work. Once they’re over about 70, Alzheimer’s, strokes and other illnesses (either their own or their spouse’s) are going to pull a lot out of the workforce.

        The problem is going to be a lack of people pulling in dollars to pay for their care. It would be kind of handy if there was a pool of highly skilled young people capable of doing highly valued work that could be taxed for this purpose.

      • “They don’t need to start dying, they just need to be too sick to work.”

        Not even that. They just need to cost more than they create.

      • LD,

        We’re talking about boomers, right? Haven’t they been costing more than they create for about twenty years?

        But jokes aside, I infer you mean they’ll be easy targets for cost cutters in years to come, which seems on the money.

        Having worked at a company with a very significant over sixty contingent, it looks like it takes a lot of things to go right to keep working more than a few years past sixty five – coffins, hospital beds, wheelchairs and pink slips all need to be dodged, and none are in your direct control. Best you can do is give up smoking before 40 and pray regularly.