The Growth of Jobless Households in Australia

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 03/01

Date: May 2001


Peter Dawkins
Paul Gregg
Rosanna Scutella


Individual and household based aggregate measures of joblessness offer conflicting signals about labour market performance. This paper shows that while individual based measures of joblessness have remained fairly stable over the last 10 years or so and have fallen after highs in the early 1980s, household measures of joblessness have risen. Joblessness among the working age population has become more concentrated within certain households. In the past Australias non-working population (of working age) were supported in households where others worked whereas they are now primarily supported by welfare payments from the state. What is perhaps most striking is how many children now are living in households with no earned income. The incidence of jobless households falls disproportionately on households headed by those who are young or approaching retirement age, with little or no qualifications or born overseas. Many jobless households are single parents so they are also much more likely to be headed by a female. We also show that the poor are disproportionately represented in jobless households.

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