This discussion paper estimates the economic cost of underemployment in Australia, both before and during the [Coronavirus Disease 2019] COVID-19 pandemic. The [Australian Bureau of Statistics] ABS Labour Force data for April 2020 revealed the depth and breadth of the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic impact on the lives of working Australians. Youth unemployment jumped to 13.8 per cent, and the number of Australians abandoning the labour market rose an unprecedented 2.4 per cent – that is almost half a million people who are not only out of work, but have stopped looking for a job altogether. Perhaps most sobering was the steep rise in underemployment: the month-on-month increase to April was 50 per cent, or over 600,000 people. Just under 15 per cent of the Australian workforce is now underemployed. Combined with the unemployment rate, Australia now has a labour force underutilisation rate of 19.9 per cent – meaning one in five Australians does not have sufficient work to support themselves and their families. This discussion paper puts these statistics in perspective, noting that well before the arrival of COVID-19, the significant slack in the Australian labour market was suppressing wages and productivity, and leading to a crisis of insecure work.
SOURCE: Matthew Lloyd-Cape. “Slack in the System: The Economic Cost of Underemployment” Per Capita, May 2020.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia