Pic Credit: abc.net.au
A new analysis of payments for social services revealed a rise in unemployment in relatively affluent suburban and inner-city areas, as well as in communities that before the pandemic had already had a high number of unemployed people.
Compared to pre-pandemic levels, the number of people accessing JobSeeker or Youth Allowance has tripled in inner Melbourne and is seven times higher in North Sydney.
In the suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, and in tourism-reliant areas of Queensland such as Cairns, Mackay and the Gold Coast, some of the largest jumps in unemployment have been observed.
The Art of Further data collection company has evaluated payments from the Department of Social Services by location to assist the charity industry to tailor their aid to the “new needy” in societies with which they could have scarcely interacted before.
In this COVID-19 recession, the normal economic data the government uses to track unemployment, such as this week’s update to the official labor force figures, does not paint the full picture of unemployment.
Welfare policy consultant Toni Wren, who runs Anti-Poverty Week, said these numbers were particularly “problematic” this year because people who might be potentially working but on zero-hours or people who had been “stuck down” were skewed by these statistics.
As the economy began to collapse earlier this year, to attempt to provide a clearer picture, the Bureau of Statistics took the step of launching a second measure of jobs, based on company payrolls. But it still has restrictions, as the payroll details do not tell us whether there are full or part-time workers.
A third approach is to track unemployment payments, which gives a clear and detailed picture of where support is accessed by individuals. It’s not without flaws, either, as the approximately 1 million temporary visa workers who do not qualify for assistance are missing.
Scott McLaughlin, the founder of The Art of More, said the current model was based on unemployment compensation and planned to layer other financial details on top.
It’s one thing to know that in a household there is a new JobSeeker, or in an environment there are many new JobSeekers. But understanding the degree of debt burden or financial pressure under which these households are, tells a completely different tale, said Mr. McLaughlin.
Pre-pandemic evidence from December last year indicates that premiums for social care were concentrated in the western suburbs. Unemployment had tripled in many of those suburbs by August of this year.
But in new regions, such as Baulkham Hills (1,300 per cent), Pittwater (1,100 percent), Chatswood (800 percent) and Cronulla (700 percent), unemployment has also increased.