It doesn’t choose its targets. It doesn’t favour some over others. It’s unpredictable, devastating and enduring.

The myth of unemployment in Australia is incredibly damaging, as it allows the government to continually keep the rate of unemployment benefits so slow.

Unemployment is not left for dole bludgers who don’t want to work. I’ll say that again, unemployment is not kept for dole bludgers who don’t want to work. There’s no criteria for unemployment; it can happen to anyone.

As the casualisation of the workforce continues, and the gig economy continues to rise, the risk of unemployment is also increasing for all employees. Most employers offer 5 sick days a year for full-time workers; however, those in casual jobs or who work in the gig economy have no provision for extended leave at all. An injury, significant illness or external matter could see them lose their job and suffer the extreme financial consequences of losing income.

This past week, we have witnessed immense flooding in New South Wales, which has resulted in the destruction of numerous communities. No one could have predicted the extent of the flooding which has occurred. But, these people impacted will now have to take extended breaks from work. For those who were casual workers, part-time workers or even full-time workers affected significantly by the flooding, this could easily lead to unemployment.

$44 a day.

This isn’t the stereotypical person from a low-socioeconomic background who doesn’t want to go and find a job. These are the people who have suffered from circumstances out of their control and are appealing to the government for support. The government’s response: $44 a day. Could you live on that? By yourself, maybe. But, if you are trying to support a family, it doesn’t even come close to adequate. In fact, it is more than 25% below the poverty line in Australia.

Unemployment is also enduring. Job seeking in Australia’s labour market is challenging. There is currently an average of 8 people vying for every available position, and even before the pandemic, there were at least 6. This is not a matter of being less qualified than another candidate; this is merely the sheer number of people looking for work in a market that is failing to provide enough options.

The Liberal Government continues with this myth regarding unemployment and argues that keeping people in poverty is necessary to incentivise them to find work. It’s like a trampoline where you are encouraged to get up and bounce back, but your older brother is standing next to you and double bounces you every time you attempt. Your knees buckle, you fall back down, and your hope or motivation of trying again diminishes each time.

In fact, since the Liberal Party came to government in 2013, the number of people who rely on unemployment payments for more than 5 years has doubled to over 150,000. Where is the incentive, Scott Morrison? Unless the plan is to send more people into poverty, further widening Australia’s economic inequality to increase Australia’s upper class’s power and wealth?

The impact of this policy on wage growth is also overwhelmingly concerning. Keeping people in such dire poverty while they look for work puts significant downward pressure on wage growth. It becomes a competition for who can work for the least amount of money, as there is always someone waiting at the door to replace you.

The myth of unemployment is enabling the government to keep wage growth down and limit any increase to unemployment benefits.

This myth isn’t confirmed or plausible. It’s busted.  

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