Good news/bad news on job payments

JobKeeper and JobSeeker supplement ‘extensions’ to end December are welcome but what is the rationale for reducing the payments, particularly halving the JobSeeker supplement?

Part-time workers will have their JobKeeper payments reduced and be pushed on to JobSeeker top-ups – a transition from wage subsidies to welfare payments, with all the frustrations that will come from dealing with an embattled Centrelink.

In any case, it seems pointless to force JobSeekers to apply for jobs when the unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Statistics, was already 7.4% in June – almost a million people – and a higher rate than it’s been anytime in the past 22 years.  The real rate is forecast to be closer to 10% when those who gave up looking for work return to job queues.

Without JobKeeper payments the government knows the rate of unemployment would be more like 13%.  The underemployment rate is 11.7% and likely to be under-reported at that.

ABS data in June shows that women and young people were most affected by job losses in April and May. Youth unemployment rate is now 16.4% – up from 12.9% in April. 

Raising the income-free rate from $106 to $300/fortnight provides the right incentive but with jobs disappearing, how many people will be able to find the work to take advantage of this change? Employers are being inundated with applications and from people way more qualified than required.

The PM was quick to justify the return of Jobseeker obligations with the old chestnut of the unemployed resisting work. 

He talks up the economy and it’s true that some states are bouncing back slightly but Victoria’s second wave of Covid cases shows how fragile the situation is. 12.428 Australians have been diagnosed with Covid-19 to date and new infections in Victoria are still climbing, as are rates of hospitalisation.

It’s not yet time to be turning off the tap.

Photo by faruk otkur on Unsplash

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