By Joe Montero
According to the latest statistics from Roy Morgan, unemployment stood at `10 percent in July. The Morgan rate differs from the 5.4 stated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for June, because it considers all those who would work, if they had the opportunity, and does not consider one hour of work during the survey week as being employed. The Roy Morgan is therefore much more accurate.
Part of the reason, is that the size of the workforce has increased by 167,000. But Far more important, has been the growth of underemployment to 1,350,000 Australians. It accounts for 8.6 percent of the workforce. And underemployment at a given time is only a small part of the scale of precarious work existing today in Australia.
Roy Morgan considers part-time work separately. There are 4,256,000 working part-time. If this is included in the calculation, the real level of unemployment is even higher. The real total number of people looking for work now stands at around 18.6 percent of the workforce, or 2.48 million Australians.
If all this is not considered and just the overall statistic is used, it is possible to claim that the number of real jobs has increased over the last year by 167,000; something that the Turnbull government has been quick to claim. The whole picture makes it clear. The claim is a lie.
Australia has a significant problem in finding enough work for those who need it, and that there should be a constructive approach to dealing with the problem.
This is not happening, because government policy is to leave it to the forces of the market. The market’s response has been to not only fail to provide enough work, but to utilise the fact, to create precarious work. Unemployment pressures existing working conditions downward. This may suit employers in the short-run, but it is disastrous for the economy and society.
To boost its assistance to the market, the Turnbull government has been busy vilifying those who are out of work, blaming them for their situation, systematically punishing and cutting away services. In doing this, it is assisting the creation of a source of cheap labour.
This comes together with the reality of stagnant wages overall.
If Australia is going to move in the opposite direction, a real job creation program is required. Government intervention is needed, through enough works programs, designed to build a better foundation for the economy. More infrastructure is called for. For instance, people could be put to work in building new clean energy sources, to help the growth of a new sustainable economy.
The government could grow new manufacturing industries. Greater attention could be paid to cutting down waste and improving the supply of water. Better transport systems could be built. More resources could be devoted to training, so that the coming workforce is better prepared to perform at the optimum.
To succeed, such programs must also pay proper wages to those they employ. Otherwise they will not be provided the means to change their circumstances, and the result will echo the failure of the work for the dole programs.
Taking this course, is less about what can be afforded than it is about attitude.
The point is we have a human crisis, and it’s up to us to us as a society, to do something about it.