Monday, 7 November 2016

Australia still losing full-time employment positions and the Turnbull Government still denying reality of the job market

20 October 2016

Shift to part-time employment continues

Monthly trend employment in Australia increased slightly in September 2016, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

In September 2016, trend employment increased by 3,900 persons to 11,959,500 persons - a monthly growth rate of 0.03 per cent. This is down from the monthly employment growth peak of 0.28 per cent in September 2015. Trend part-time employment growth continued, with an increase of 11,800 persons, while full-time employment decreased by 7,900 persons.

”The latest Labour Force release shows further increases in part-time employment. There are now 130,000 more persons working part-time than in December 2015, while the number working full-time has decreased by 54,100 persons," said the Program Manager of ABS' Labour and Income Branch, Jacqui Jones.

The trend monthly hours worked increased by 2.2 million hours (0.1 per cent), though it is still below the high in December 2015.

The trend unemployment rate decreased slightly (by less than 0.1 percentage points) to 5.6 per cent, and the participation rate decreased 0.1 percentage points but remained steady at 64.7 per cent in rounded terms.

Trend series smooth the more volatile seasonally adjusted estimates and provide the best measure of the underlying behaviour of the labour market.

The seasonally adjusted number of persons employed decreased by 9,800 in September 2016. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for September 2016 decreased by 0.1 percentage points to 5.6 per cent, and the seasonally adjusted labour force participation rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points to 64.5 per cent.

More details are in the September 2016 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0). In addition, further information, including regional labour market information, can be found in the upcoming September 2016 issue of Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery(cat. no. 6291.0.55.001), due for release on 27 October 2016. 

In August 2016 there were an est. total of 179,000 full-time and part-time job vacancies in Australia, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. By September 2016 this figure had dropped to est. 161,1000 job vacancies, according to the Australian Government Dept. of Employment.

In September 2016 there were est. 690,900 unemployed people in Australia. An est. 20 per cent of these people were under 25 years of age.

An est. 480,400 unemployed people were looking for full-time work (est. 39 per cent of this number were females) and on average they each spent 47.1 months doing so.

An additional est. 209,900 unemployed people were looking for part-time work and, as est. 59 per cent of this number were females one could suspect that many were only seeking part-time rather than full-time work because of competing child raising/carer obligations.

Despite these figures indicating that a high number of unemployed people are competing for jobs in a shrinking pool of employment opportunities, the Turnbull Government through the Minister for Social Services and Liberal MP for Pearce Christian “inequality is a measure of difference not a measure of comparative wellbeing”  Porter insists on demonising those applying for unemployment benefits while they search for work, as well as those women who seek to lawfully access government paid parental leave payments in additional to their employer schemes so that they may return to work at an appropriate time and, single parents receiving parenting payments.

The Turnbull Government’s new policy approach based on the June 2016 Baseline Valuation Report allegedly providing a baseline analysis of lifetime welfare costs and highlighting areas of interest is not worth the paper it was printed on – as has been pointed out elsewhere.

And the example of the stay-at-home single parent of four earning more than a similar parent working full-time is nothing but a pile of political manure, as was shown it this report in The Sydney Morning Herald on 29 October 2016:

The claim, published in The Australian on Friday and backed up by Social Services Minister Christian Porter, is that single parents with four children can get payments totalling $52,523 per year if they don't work but only $49,831 after tax if they work and receive the median full-time wage…..

Former Department of Social Security analyst David Plunkett said the calculation excluded $30,916 in family tax benefits that the parent working full-time would also receive, meaning that when "apples are compared with apples", the parent would receive $80,747 if working and $52,523 per year if not working.

Ben Stiller writing in The Sydney Morning Herald on 26 September 2016 gave a telling response to this blinkered federal government’s approach to jobs ‘n’ growth:

I've now spent most of my life working with people the minister has declared there is a "moral imperative" to get off welfare, many of them living lives impacted by profound disadvantages to participation in employment. All of them people who, like me, just want an opportunity to make their life better.

Unlike me, though, they are often trying to manage multiple disadvantages associated with physical health, mental health, family breakdown, lack of education, high local unemployment rates, discrimination and stigmas.

We can choose to apply moral judgment to people so easily attributed to a budget line and described as having a "lifetime of welfare dependence". After all, almost everyone reading this is a success. We made a go of things, overcame our challenges. We pay our taxes. These people are scientifically calculated to spend their lives without bothering to get a job.

Except there aren't any new low-skilled jobs for a 19-year-old single mother with a year 10 education that structure flexible working arrangements around caring responsibilities, childcare pick-ups, court appearances to renew AVOs and night-time community centre literacy/numeracy classes. Even the "welfare dependant" strive to help their children with homework.

As for the old unskilled jobs, they've all been undermined, underpaid and offshored. The new skills needed to get a job cost tens of thousands of dollars and if you happen to pick a dodgy private provider then all that debt has gone into a worthless piece of paper.

When there are no jobs, when there are no opportunities and there is no hope for improvement we have created poverty. As St Vincent de Paul Society CEO Dr John Falzon said, "Poverty is not a personal choice." In poverty there are no choices. People do what they need to do in the world in which they live in order to survive.

I've seen people line up like cattle for hours in the rain to receive a basket of tinned food or a $20 supermarket voucher (Don't worry, Minister, they were always marked "No tobacco. No alcohol"). I've seen people pretend to be someone else to try to get an extra basket because family have come from interstate on the bus and they have nothing to feed them.

Those aren't choices made by people with options and opportunities, they are attempts to survive in a system that confuses, abuses and punishes.

I would like to take this opportunity to make one thing very clear to every politician and print or television journalist who may be tempted to continue to demonise people receiving Centrelink or Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs pensions, benefits or allowances.

They are not the only people in Australia receiving in kind or cash welfare from the federal government.

By way of example*:
* Every person or business receiving a tax concession or tax refund is receiving government welfare. 
* Everyone taking advantage of low taxing components in their superannuation arrangements is receiving government welfare. 
* Every individual who received a primary and high school education received government welfare through state/federal subsidies to schools and/or tax concession to peak religious organisations running them. 
* Every student who took advantage of deferred fee payment options during their university education years received government welfare. 
* Everyone turning up at A&E at a public hospital is receiving government welfare.
* Every parent who took their children to be immunized under the national immunization scheme received government welfare.
* Everyone with or without a a concession card who reached the annual PBS Safety Net threshold and was subsequently supplied with reduced cost/free medication received government welfare.
* Every person receiving non-income tested assistance from any government health or social program is receiving government welfare.

In other words, every single person in Australia receives government welfare – sometimes for years!

* This is not an exhaustive list of examples

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