Hidden unemployment

Updated March 10 2005 - Today's official unemployment figures continue to hide the real number of people who want to work in Australia, according to the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

"The current definition that 'one hour's work a week' equals employment produced today's official jobless rate of 5.1 per cent," Tony Nicholson, Executive Director of the Brotherhood said today.

"At the risk of being predictable, we are compelled to say that this figure paints a misleading picture.

"Many Australians believe low unemployment means overall prosperity and financial security but today's figure fails to acknowledge the Australian battlers who are struggling against underemployment or those who have given up hope of finding a job.

"Based on the latest ABS figures from October 2004 we believe the real jobless rate is more than twice the size of the official figure when you include those who want more work and those who've given up looking for work altogether."

UnitingCare Australia National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds said Australian Government figures show 3.6 million Australians live on a household income of less than $400 a week but many of these people are not counted in jobless figures.

"These people find themselves in low paid, part time and casual jobs that don't provide enough money each week to cover the basics of food, utilities, medical bills and a roof over their heads," Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

"We want to send a message to our political leaders that for more and more Australians, a decent life is a pipe dream because they are caught in jobs that do not provide them with the means to offer a decent life for them and their families.

"With welfare reform on the National Agenda, we call on the Australian Government to engage with those of us who work daily with Australia's forgotten jobless."

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10 October 2001 - Real unemployment in Australia is currently at 10.7% according to a poll of 13,000 people conducted by Roy Morgan Research. The poll regards someone as unemployed if they are not employed and who is looking for work.

Labor used the poll to justify an attack on government policies. Cheryl Kernot, Shadow Minister for Employment and Training said:

"This poll shows why job creation and job security must be central issues in the election campaign," .

"This poll comes on the same day as up to 850 jobs may be lost at Optus.

"What this poll highlights, is the very high extent of hidden unemployment in Australia. Melbourne academic Dr Peter Brain has previously stated that the 'true' level of unemployment in Australia is much higher then official estimates indicate.

"In fact according to other Australian Bureau of Statistics figures there are 437,400 underemployed part time workers who don't have enough work to make ends meet and an additional 1,159,000 Australians who don't have a job but would like one. This is all in addition to the 669,000 people who are officially unemployed.

"Labor has pledged to tackle the unemployment and underemployment problem head on. To help do this Labor made a policy announcement in February of this year that it would require the ABS to collect additional information about the extent of underemployment in Australia.

"In addition Labor will use this extra information to help workers and employers to tailor a better work life balance.

"This policy can be found on the ALP web site. The 100 policies found here stand in stark contrast to the 0 policies on the Liberal web site.