Australia’s rate of youth unemployment has shot up to a staggering 16.1%, according to new figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The country’s official unemployment rate grew from 6.4% in April, up to 7.1% in May. That rise is attributed to the country washing off a further 227,700 jobs during last month alone.
But it’s the youth statistics that are extremely troubling. The stats show that over 311,000 young people – those aged in the 15-24 age bracket – are currently out of work, representing an unemployment rate that’s a full 9% above the national level.
May alone was a shocking month for the employment prospects of 15-24 year olds specifically. The ABS stats show that the overall employment rate for young Australians decreased 6.0% in May, representing a drop of 102,900 people. Worse still, the overall participation rate – i.e. the combined number of people either working or actively looking for work – fell 2.6 points to 59.9%.
Overall figures on unemployment and underemployment for all of Australia remains at highs not seen in the past 19 years. Across April and May, when coronavirus restrictions began hitting industries hardest, Australia has washed off some 835,000 jobs overall.
Western Australia is the hardest hit of all Australian states, with their official unemployment rate spiking 2 full percentage points in May, up to 8.1% overall.
South Australia and Queensland’s unemployment rate sits just below that level at 7.9%, while Victoria and New South Wales are currently sporting joblessness rates of 6.9% and 6.4% respectively. The only Australian jurisdiction to improve their employment position in May was the ACT, whose rate dropped to 4.1% from an April high of 4.3%.
ABS estimates assert that around 2.3 million people were affected by employment downturn in May, either through being out of work, losing their job, or working reduced hours. That amounts to around one out of every five people in the total Australian labour market.
The Federal Government, meanwhile, remains steadfast in its plans to wrap up the JobKeeper program in September.