Feb 13, 2003

6,100 more people without jobs sink into long-term unemployment


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 13 February 2003

Data released today by the Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) confirms long-term unemployment is continuing to rise.

The data shows that 399,267 people have been on the dole for more than a year, up by more than 6,100 on the previous month and a massive 21,000 since November last year.

The number of people on the dole for more than 12 months is higher today than it was when the Howard Government was first elected to office in March 1996. Despite a decade of economic growth, it is obvious that under this Government the long-term unemployed have been abandoned to the ravages of the marketplace.

However, the rise in 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. This is confirmed by data released earlier this week by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (see Labour Market Assistance Outcomes, Issue 10, p4).

According to this data only 17% of those who participated in Intensive Assistance – the highest level of help available through the Job Network – found full-time employment.

In the case of the most disadvantaged jobseekers, only 1 in 10 (11.4%) found full-time work upon completing Intensive Assistance.

This data supports last year’s findings 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.