A new report by the Parliamentary Budget Office found that women aged over 60 are the fastest growing section of the population on JobSeeker payments.
The JobSeeker Payment: COVID-19, age & gender report, released on January 12, looked at the number of JobSeeker recipients during the COVID-19 lockdowns and assessed the population trends receiving the payment.
During the initial lockdown periods, young people, particularly women, were the fastest growing sector receiving the payment. This was because many youth-dominated industries shut down, including retail, fast food and other casualised work.
However, since the lockdowns ended, older people have become the biggest sector seeking the payment. The rise in JobSeeker recipients aged 60 and over is “not related to the pandemic, but rather to changes in the Age Pension age”, the report found.
Successive governments have raised the eligibility age to receive the Age Pension. The report noted that men aged 25–29 were the biggest demographic on JobSeeker in 2001. Now, women over 60 are the biggest, with men over 60 being the second highest.
Women over 55 are also the fastest growing group experiencing homelessness: they face a lack of affordable housing, lower levels of superannuation and barriers to entering paid work. Domestic violence is another critical factor, with many women forced to leave unsafe accommodation.
Responding to the report, Australian Unemployed Workers Union spokesperson Jeremy Poxon said: “Please remember that this is who the government is choosing to starve and punish with mutual obligations”.