unemployment

Life is about to get a lot tougher for 700,000 workers and their dependents when the penalty rate cuts hit on July 1. It is also the day politicians will get a 2% pay rise.

Full and part-time workers in the retail, fast food, hospitality and pharmacy industries are the first to be hit. The ACTU calculated that casuals in the pharmacy industry will face an annual cut of up to $6000 as the result of a February ruling by the misnamed Fair Work Commission.

There are about 13 million people in the Australian workforce. According to Roy Morgan Research, in October a total of 2.5 million Australians, or 19% of the workforce, were either unemployed (1,188,000) or under-employed (1,266,000). This is up 256,000 from October 2015.

Job agencies are the government-funded organisations tasked with helping unemployed people find work.

There is growing evidence suggesting this “help” consists of the following:

As part of this year's Anti-Poverty Week, a conference in South Australia A looked at how a lack of jobs is changing the nature of unemployment into an increasingly long-term phenomenon.

Anti-Poverty Network SA launched a new campaign this week: Target 80K (80,000) Jobs For SA .

The campaign is about shifting the discussion on unemployment away from the relentless victim-blaming, the attacks on job-seekers, and onto governments that know full well but refuse to acknowledge, let alone do anything about the fact there are not enough jobs to go around. In South Australia, we have 9,800 job vacancies and 89,600 job-seekers. We need another 80,000 jobs.

Anti-Poverty Network SA released this statement on June 1 to coincide with the launch.

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Treasurer Scott Morrison presented his budget for 2016-17 on May 3. What does it mean for young people today? Does it address higher education and growing youth unemployment? No.

From April 1 next year, jobseekers under 25 who are receiving welfare payments such as Newstart and have been looking for a job for at least six months, will be able to participate in intensive pre-employment skills training within five months of registering with the Centrelink program “jobactive”.

Radical solutions to poverty were put forward at a public conversation titled “Pushed to the Margins” held at the Newcastle City Hall on October 21.

The ABC’s Lateline co-presenter Emma Alberici hosted the forum and seemed to be taken aback by economist Professor Bill Mitchell’s simple solutions to poverty.

Asked by Alberici, “What causes unemployment?”, Mitchell responded: “Lack of jobs”.

Mitchell went on to advocate a “job guarantee”, where the government funds job creation through a massive programme of productive public works.

Senate rejects bid to make unemployed wait for welfare

An attack on young people has been defeated. A measure to force jobseekers under the age of 25 to wait an additional four weeks before accessing unemployment benefits has been defeated in the Senate, 30 votes to 35.

Labor and the Greens opposed the bill, announced in the May federal budget, meaning six of the eight crossbenchers had to vote with the government for the bill to pass.

It is now more difficult for unemployed people to find a job than it has been for 20 years. Official youth unemployment is 12% and the official national jobless rate has risen to a 13-year high of 6.3%.

The last time employment prospects were so depressed was in the 1990s when the national unemployment rate was 8%. In South Australia, the official unemployment rate is now 7.9%, with employment growth a negligible 0.3%.

Following the announcements of the closure of Ford, Alcoa and Target’s head office, workers in the Geelong region have been dealt another blow.

Barwon Health, now one of the largest employers in the Geelong region, announced on May 29 that its laundry service LinenCare would close by June 30, making 94 workers unemployed.

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