Where Are the Workers?

The low unemployment rate masks some figures about Australia that aren't quite as flattering.

Where Are the Workers?
Photo by Ernie Journeys / Unsplash

You’ve probably heard the phrase, lies, damn lies and statistics. Well we had some interesting statistics released last week and most thought it was good news.

Australia’s unemployment rate fell to 4.2%. That’s the best in 10 years and one of the best monthly figures in nearly five decades.

But like all statistics, the devil is in the detail.

Being employed means you are in a paid job for one hour or more per week. Yes just one hour per week.

The unemployed are those not doing at least one hours paid work per week but have been looking for a job in the past month and are ready to start immediately.

Then there is a third category of Aussies defined as not in the labor force. They are the ones not working and not looking for a job.

Let’s put that in perspective.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, just two thirds of working age adults are actually in the workforce and of those employed, nearly 6.6% wish they had more work. They are the underemployed.

Among youth, almost 10 per cent are deemed unemployed. A reminder they are unable to find even a single hour of paid employment per week.

I find myself asking 'How is this so'?

I walk past stores in the city, the burbs and in regional areas with signs seeking workers. I know businesses have been forced to close because they cannot find staff.

Apparently there are still more than 200,000 people who took up pandemic welfare benefits still out of work.

And now, the government is bringing in temporary workers (and relaxing student working conditions) to fill the demand for workers.

I’ve spoken with enough businesses (particularly those in the agricultural and hospitality sectors)  to know this is critical but I keep coming back to the question of 'Why is it necessary'?

There are millions of Aussies who are apparently looking for work or have chosen not to for whatever reason.

I don’t doubt some of these are unemployable because of personal circumstances but I am equally confident many of them have chosen to opt out of responsibility to look after themselves and prefer spending other taxpayers cash.

Isn’t it a responsibility of government to get that cohort off the welfare and into the workforce rather than take the easy option of the mass import of temporary labor or foreign student workers?

That used to be the case but something has changed over the years.

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