PBO report signals older women at risk of long-term unemployment without Government action

30 September 2020

The Parliamentary Budget Office has today released a report today showing that in the lead up to the COVID-19 crisis, older women were increasingly recipients of JobSeeker (then Newstart).

The report finds that in 2019 half of all people on JobSeeker (then Newstart) were aged 45 years or above. Of those aged 60 and over, more than half were women.

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said:

“It’s deeply concerning that so many older women were unable to find paid work even before the COVID-19 crisis hit. It’s vital that the government invests in wage subsidies and training for people who are at risk of long-term unemployment. We also need to see increased investment in care services such as aged care and childcare, which generate more jobs – especially for women – than the same amount invested in infrastructure.

“We are in one of the worst recessions of our history and more people than almost ever before will struggle to find paid work in coming years. We must ensure that those people who could not get paid work even before this crisis hit, including older women, are not left behind in entrenched unemployment.

“Not only must the Government focus on job generation, wage subsidies and training, it must make sure that people can cover the basics while they try to rebuild their lives. The rates of JobSeeker and Rent Assistance must ensure people can keep a roof over head and food on the table. As analysis by Deloitte Access Economics has shown, ensuring people on low incomes can cover the basics by investing in JobSeeker is one of the best things we can do to stimulate business recovery, creating jobs. It’s far more effective as economic stimulus than income tax cuts that go mostly to people on high incomes, because people on low incomes are living week-to-week and have no choice but to spend in the real economy on the basics they need to get by.”

The PBO report also confirms that people with disability were being put on the old, low Newstart rate, rather than the Disability Support Pension. The report also shows that JobSeeker payments (then Newstart) made 5.7% of Federal Government funding for social security and welfare spending.