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Age-based wage subsidy to freeze out 170,000 Queenslanders

Decision 2020

About 170,000 Queenslanders would be effectively locked out of the employment market because of their age, according to researchers Roy Morgan.

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The analysis follows the Federal Government’s Budget strategy to subsidise the wages of workers below the age of 35 which provides funding of $200 a week for workers aged between 19 and 24 and $100 a week for those between 30 and 34.

Roy Morgan unemployment and under-employment figures for September showed there were 335,000 unemployed Australians aged 35 to 49 and 330,000 aged 50 and over “who are also unemployed and are ignored by this substantial wage subsidy”.

Chief executive Michelle Levine said this policy would have a bigger impact on Victoria and Queensland which both have far higher rates of unemployment among those aged 35 and over than New South Wales.

She said Queensland had 170,000 unemployed over the age of 35 and Victoria 185,000. Queensland also has the nation’s highest unemployment rate at 7.7 per cent and it had become a major focus of the state election campaign with the LNP vowing to get it to 5 per cent.

“In addition to hundreds of thousands of unemployed there are another 625,000 Australians aged 35-plus who are under-employed – working part-time but looking for more work,” Levine said.

“This large cohort of unemployed Australians risks being frozen out of employment opportunities as businesses opt to employ younger, cheaper and less experienced workers at their expense – and collect significant wage subsidies to do so.

“In its efforts to get the Australian economy moving again as it slowly opens up – at least on a domestic level – over the next few months the Federal Government must be careful not to disadvantage large numbers of workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.”

However, Levine said the number of people looking for work must go up if Australia wanted to get the economy going again.

“In September this number, and the overall workforce, contracted as the significant Government support measures in place meant people who lost their jobs did not feel the usual pressure to immediately find new employment,” she said.


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