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Tens of thousands of working-age Australians shifted on to the welfare safety net between September and February (ABC News)

Almost 50,000 people have moved on to JobSeeker and Youth Allowance payments in five months despite historically low unemployment rates, as Treasurer Jim Chalmers warns of labour market weaknesses. Source: The Australian. 

Amid mounting concerns about migration, housing and quality of jobs, Department of Social Services data reveals tens of thousands of working-age Australians shifted on to the welfare safety net between September and February.

Recipients of JobSeeker and Youth Allowance (other) jumped to 876,020 in February, marking an increase of 49,660 since the cohort fell to a post-pandemic low in September.

Dr Chalmers said yesterday that Treasury had forecast for some time the labour market would soften as a result of global economic uncertainty, moderating but high inflation, and higher interest rates.

“Despite the unemployment rate near historic lows, there have been some recent indications of weakness, including a fall in hours worked and a rise in payment recipients,” Dr Chalmers said.

“We know there are more people willing and able to work or to work more hours than show up in the monthly unemployment figures, and there’s more that can be done to help those that have been locked out of the jobs market for a long time.”

DSS figures show the average duration for JobSeeker payments at 183 weeks in February, with 66,470 Australians relying on payments for more than 10 years and 126,120 for more than five years.

Ahead of last year’s budget, the Treasurer said he was determined to help long-term unemployed get back into the workforce and provide more direct support for entrenched disadvantaged communities.

Opposition Treasury spokesman Angus Taylor said the JobSeeker data confirmed “the real pain Australians are under in Labor’s cost-of-living crisis”.

“More Australians are on welfare, almost one million Australians are now working second or third jobs, and youth unemployment is higher now than when the Labor came to government,” Mr Taylor said. 


JobSeeker welfare spike amid labour market pressures (By Geoff Chambers, The Australian)