Mar 13, 2003

Long term unemployed: the forgotten people

LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYED: THE FORGOTTEN PEOPLE

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 13 March 2003

Data released today by the Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) confirms that the number of people on the dole for more than 12 months is today more than 10,000 higher than when the Howard Government was first elected to office in March 1996.

The data shows that 394,499 people have been on the dole for more than a year.

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.

According to data from the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, 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.

Labour Market Assistance Outcomes, Issue 10, p4

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

As well as rising long-term unemployment, the level of underemployment – that is, those Australians currently working part-time but want more hours – has increased by a massive 31% since the election of the Howard Government.

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.