A good story by Greg Jericho in The Guardian, which shows the government’s JobKeeper policy has largely failed. Many of our resume clients now are young women. This story was edited down.
While the unemployment rate has remained lower than expected, this has been due to the failure of the very thing the JobKeeper aimed to do: keeping young people and women in the labour force.
It says something about just how shocking the labour force figures are that the Bureau of Statistics felt the need to explain that the unemployment rate of 7.1% – some 2 percentage points higher than it was in February – did not really reflect reality. Because reality is so much worse.
This recession is not primarily about unemployment, but the rise in both underemployment (because workers’ hours have been cut) and the masses of people giving up looking for work.
JobKeeper aimed to keep the unemployment rate down by keeping people technically employed even though they were not actually working. And to an extent it worked. Since March, employment has fallen by a massive 6.4%, but that is less than the astonishing 10% fall in hours worked.
The problem is that to be unemployed you have to be looking for work, and many of those who have lost their jobs in the past two months are not doing that.
The destruction of the labour force is most prominent among those under 25: 13% of women under 25 have left the labour force since March.
This highlights the problem of JobKeeper requiring casuals to have been employed in the same job for more than a year. That was predicted to hit younger workers harder. And so it has.
So massive has been the hit that since March, 157,000 teenagers have lost work, but the number of teenagers unemployed has also fallen 5,000 – they just gave up looking for work.
If we counted that 162,000 as unemployed, the teenage unemployment rate would not be 19.9% as it stands, but 35.6%. Including those teenagers alone would see the overall unemployment rate rise from 7.1% to 8.2%.
Across all ages and genders more people in the past two months have given up looking for work than have gone from working to being unemployed, but overall women have been more affected.
And it is also clear the result has been a greater loss of women and young people to the workforce, a loss which will take years to recover.