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One million jobless – unprecedented, and out of control

The Morrison government released its latest unemployment statistics on Thursday, and the immediate interpretation from the numbers possesses a deadly truth: it’s unprecedented, bound to get higher, and the recession occurring in the midst of a pandemic isn’t going to end anytime soon without a jobs plan to combat it.

Via data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the rate of unemployment in Australia has risen to 7.5 per cent, equating to 1,009,400 people out of work – rising over the 1,000,000 mark for the first time in the nation’s history – and the underutilisation rate which defines a combination of those who are unemployed in addition to those who aren’t working a minimum of 20 hours per week has risen to a whopping 18.7 per cent.

For perspective, nearly one in every five people who are able to work are not working enough hours to qualify for the title of part-time workers.

Another bit of perspective: Back in January, when the words “pandemic”, “coronavirus” and “COVID” were not a part of the daily lexicon, and the word “recession” was an absolute afterthought, the unemployment rate stood at 5.2 per cent, and was considered as “steady”.

Therefore, in the last seven months, the key economic indicator of the nation’s economy that the public generally identifies with has gone from “steady” and mildly acceptable, to “record-breaking” and unprecedented – and in no way of making a U-turn anytime soon.

In order to inspire that recovery, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) maintains that a plan to create more jobs remains as a key foundation point to engineer some sort of a National Economic Reconstruction Plan (NERP), as the organisation has put in its own blueprint before.

And if the Morrison government fails to do this quickly, the ACTU fears that concerns will increase for the country’s working classes, that the economy and unemployment figures will continue to veer out of control like a heavy vehicle on an old country road.

“These figures show that Australia is on track – as predicted by the government’s own department – to reach 10 percent by the end of the year,” warns Michele O’Neil, the ACTU’s president.

O’Neil also points out that the government’s statistics on unemployment and underemployment would be worse if not for the 3.5 million workers currently receiving payments under the JobKeeper subsidy scheme.

“Even with a national wage subsidy scheme which unions fought for, more than a million people are now looking for work,” O’Neil said.

“Even with a national wage subsidy scheme which unions fought for, more than a million people are now looking for work.

“The million Australians now out of a job, and the millions more who are either reliant on JobKeeper or worried about their future, need leadership from this Government. They need a plan for jobs,” O’Neil added.

O’Neil also said that any jobs-creation plan would have to result in a particular “if-then” scenario: if the government can put masses of people to work, then they can have the foundation blocks to rebuild an economy upon, and where the newly-employed can spend their money.

“We need to make sure that the recovery creates secure jobs which will kick-start the economy by putting money in the hands of working people and giving them the confidence to spend it,” she said.

To review the ACTU’s economic recovery blueprint from nearly four weeks ago, it focuses on areas in training, infrastructure, sustainability, hospitality and tourism, and childcare.

And the ACTU has even said to the Morrison government, in no uncertain terms, “feel free to adopt our plan” – an insistence that the organisation was offering, on general principle, even at the start of June – and adapt the blueprint’s fundamentals and build upon it to aid in its economic recovery aims.

“People need reassurance that Australia isn’t going over an economic cliff so the sooner the Government tells people the plan the better for everyone,” O’Neil said at the time.

And at that time, unemployment stood at a similar rate of 7.4 per cent, so these appeals are nothing new, adds O’Neil.

“We have 13 times more unemployed people than jobs available, and record rates of young people either out of work or needing more hours,” she said.

“People need a real pathway that builds on skill development into real work so expanding the program to include new apprentices and making sure there are government projects with mandated minimum numbers of trainees and apprentices is what we need to see now,” added O’Neil, using a reinvestment into the country’s TAFE system as a focal point to put people back to work.

Overall, O’Neil has implored for those in the Morrison government to consult with the ACTU, in the name of camaraderie and bipartisanship towards a common goal, over any plans which it has proposed in the past.

“The ACTU has put forward a detailed plan, what’s needed now is for the Government to act to create jobs and to ensure that working people have better rights and more secure work as we recover from this crisis,” said O’Neil.

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10 comments

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  1. Kronomex

    Outside the warped reality of the LNP I get the feeling that the unemployment figures range anywhere from 13 – 20%. I wish the ACTU good luck in trying to converse on a sensible level with Saint Scotty of the Marketing and the offspring of a failed crossbreeding experiment between a Harpy and Medusa who currently heads the Ministry for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business.

  2. Lawrence S. Roberts

    When it gets raging in NSW the spin will be put on to follow The Swedish approach. Whips out, Get back to work!

    This is probably the only opportunity we will get to fix the environmental problems and rejig the economy. We could have an evolutionary change bigger than The French Revolution. Instead of decapitating the dear old queen just put old king coal on terminal life support.

  3. ajogrady

    Under the masterful guidance of the L/NP Australia is destined to become a major economic backwater and an internationally recognised pariah state.

  4. Florence Howarth

    Imagine having to deal with Cash.

  5. wam

    The thought that a franchise business has to pay a fee so if that fee can be raised from the worker’s wages is consistent with the lnp expectation that it is the business that rules the workers and the job is the gift to the worker and the pay should be directed by the business not by an outside minimum wage. these businesses have no conscience about avoiding the conditions of permanent employment and are not too fussy about fudging payment if there is any language difficulty.

  6. Andrew J. Smith

    One could suggest that the LNP are quietly and indirectly supported by the increasing numbers of retirees (vs. proportional decline in working age population), whom have guaranteed minimum income self funded and/or pensions.

    If any attention is directed upon equality, or e.g. need to reduce carbon emissions, taxes, the bottom line or short term financial gains, ‘trumps’ (pardon the pun) everything…. while trying to avoid any potential impact upon ageing Australians’ prosperity…..

  7. New England Cocky

    I think ajogrady has accurately described the underwhelming inability of the COALition misgovernment to have any idea about managing the economy for the benefit of Australian voters, which is simply naive fantasy. Rather, by following the directions of the BIG 4 accountancy (??) firms without questioning (because that would require thought by the mindless politicians unable to see past the ends of their respective noses) Australia is too well on the way to becoming the worst third world export economy in the OECD for the benefit of foreign owned multinational corporations and their shareholders living overseas.

  8. Kate

    What plan? The MorriScam regime haven’t got ANY plan except to save their OWN hides and enrich and empower the already rich and powerful! The best way to forecast HOW a government is going to react in a crisis is to look how it has behaved in the past and the record for the inept, under-achieving, bone idle elitists in the LNP is NOT good! Going back to all the broken promises of the horrendous Abbott years, they have not improved – in fact just about EVERYTHING the LNP does has turned to SHIT in record time!

    The only other crisis our lucky nation has had to contend with in recent times is the GFC and, thank God, we had a Labor government in at the time which ensured that Australia was the ONLY country in the western world that came through the GFC unscathed – thanks to the fact that the ALP did have a plan and put initiatives into place (like the Stimulus Programs) that encouraged economic growth. It is very strange – and rather ironic – that the ALP’s Stimulus Programs faced such a fierce outcry and non-stop ridicule by the LNP only to be ADOPTED by the LNP during Covid-19 – funny about that, eh?

    Isn’t it ironic that when the SHIT hits the fan, the ONLY things that work are DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST Programs like Stimulus Programs and socialistic programs like Jobseeker and Jobkeeper? It has been proven over and over again that greedy self-serving, self-obsessed neoliberalism and stone cold capitalism NEVER EVER benefits ANYONE except the Top 1% – especially during a devastating crisis like the GFC or Covid-19. You only have to look at the absolute MESS capitalistic America is in right now to learn that neoliberalism fails on EVERY account!

    The absolute WORST governnment we could have when our nation is in a crisis – or at any time – is the Lying Neoliberal Party. It is imperative we kick them to the kerb asap!

  9. Max Gross

    And the next bushfire crisis is just around the corner. During a pandemic. The resulting catastrophe will be written about and studied a hundred years from now. Sideshow Scott will be famous in ways he can never imagine.

  10. Brad Black

    Not to worry, the gas fired snap back(wards) will propel the stock mar., sorry the economy forward. Just ask those trustworthy souls slap happy angus and the happy clapper.

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