One million Aussies forgotten in unemployment statistics

According to the latest official figures, around 709,000 people are currently unemployed in Australia.

However, Jim Stanford from the Centre for Future Work suggests that the unemployment rate could be as high as 19.7 per cent if both the underemployed and the ‘marginally attached’ are taken into account.

The underemployed are those people who are working some hours but who would like more, while the marginally attached are people who are available to work and would like to be employed, but are not looking for a job. This group is also referred to as ‘discouraged workers’, and there are said to be as many as 1.055 million of them.

From The New Daily:

Dr Stanford said combining the marginally attached and underemployed with the officially unemployed provided a truer picture of the jobs market.

“This says to me that one in five potential workers in Australia, or about 20 per cent, are people who want to work, want to work more, aren’t working at all, or working less than they want to,” Dr Stanford said.

“The reality is there’s an enormous pile of people who could work and contribute enormously to our economic performance, but are sitting on the sidelines”…

“Because of these hurdles, hundreds of thousands of Australians who want work [or want more work] are excluded from the official unemployment number,” Dr Stanford noted…

APAC economist with jobs site Indeed Callam Pickering agreed the unemployment rate was “narrowly defined”, and there was a case for the marginally attached to be considered as part of it.

“Ultimately, if you are in a tough labour market where there are not many jobs being created, or the wrong types of jobs being created, job seekers can easily become discouraged and easily fall out of that labour market,” Mr Pickering said.

This is why MB focuses so much on underemployment and the labour underutilisation rate (which combines both unemployment and underemployment). These have increased significantly over the past decade, indicating an economy with huge amounts of surplus workers, which helps to explain why wage growth has been so anaemic:

Also buried in the jobs data is the fact that a record 6% of Australians are working second jobs to make ends meet:

The key drivers of these phenomena are:

  • the rise of “bullshit” services jobs post mining boom;
  • the gig economy;
  • the industrial relations impact of the cheap foreign labour tsunami and labour hire;
  • a Coalition Government intent on reinforcing these changes.
Leith van Onselen

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