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More jobs needed to lower beneficiary numbers

CTU Media Release

8 May 2012

More jobs needed to lower beneficiary numbers

CTU welcomes extra investment to get people in to employment announced yesterday, and supports measures targeted towards training and work readiness for young people but the punitive approach to beneficiaries is unnecessary and not the answer says Bill Rosenberg, CTU Economist, its aims would be achieved simply by getting job-rich growth back into the economy.

Active labour market policies that match up jobs and skills with people out of work and looking for work are a vital part of reducing joblessness. But more focus must be on job creation and the availability of good quality work,” says Rosenberg.

“Evidence shows that when there is work available, beneficiary numbers fall. Between 1999 and 2008 the number of people on the unemployment benefit plummeted from 161,000 unemployed in 1999 to 17,000 in 2008. This can be directly linked to the strong economy and investment in employment creation and supportive assistance in finding jobs. Total beneficiary numbers were at their lowest, 273,000, in May 2008 – significantly below the government’s target of 296,000, a reduction of 46,000 from the March total of 342,000.”

“So this raises the question: why are punitive measures needed if a return to a growing economy will achieve it with ease?”

“We made our concerns clear at the Select Committee on this revised social welfare legislation. Moves to reduce welfare payments, and in some case stop them altogether if people don’t comply with the work test obligations will cause real hardship for people who are very vulnerable, including solo parents. They also fail to recognise the lack of opportunities for people in the job market now and may see people forced into jobs which, for many, will be low quality, poorly paid work and will not provide training and opportunity.”

“An investment approach will only work if it supports people into employment rather than blaming them for being out of work when unemployment is running at 6.7%.”

ENDS

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