May 8, 2003

6 out of 10 have been on the dole for more than 12 months


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 8 May 2003

Data released today by the Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) confirms the scale of long-term unemployment in Australia.

The data shows that 382,176 people have been on the dole for more than a year. Of all those claiming unemployment benefits, 60% have been out of work for more than 12 months.

Despite a decade of economic growth, the number of people on the dole for more than 12 months is as high today as it was when the Howard Government was first elected to office in March 1996.

It is obvious that under this Government the long-term unemployed have been abandoned to the ravages of the marketplace.

A recent analysis of vacancy data conducted by Labor sheds further light on the plight of the unemployed. This analysis found that for every job vacancy advertised on the Government’s Job Search website there are 21 job seekers.

However, the high levels of long-term unemployment should come as no surprise. Under this Government funding for labour market programs has been slashed.

The Government’s cornerstone labour market program, the Job Network, is clearly failing to tackle entrenched joblessness.

Today’s FaCS data supports last year’s finding by Productivity Commission that most disadvantaged long-term unemployed were being “parked” in Intensive Assistance receiving only “the pretence of aid”.

Productivity Commission (2002), Independent Review of the Job Network: p 9.19

Instead of preaching to the unemployed, the Government should be investing more in the assistance that will help them move permanently from welfare into work.