October 14, 2020

Unemployment is high for all age groups – not just under 35 year olds targeted by Federal Government assistance

Topic: Press Release, Unemployment
Finding No: 8539
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The latest Roy Morgan unemployment estimates for September show 1,830,000 Australians unemployed (12.9% of the workforce) and a further 1,330,000 under-employed (9.4%). A total of 3,160,000 unemployed or under-employed (22.3%).

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s ‘COVID-19 pandemic’ delayed Federal Budget was handed down last week with the ‘JobMaker Hiring Credit’ wage subsidy providing a clear incentive for businesses to hire younger employees aged under 35.

The ‘JobMaker Hiring Credit’ provides businesses that hire an unemployed person aged 16-29 with a $200 weekly wage subsidy which reduces to $100 per week for hiring people aged 30-34.

However, the latest Roy Morgan unemployment and under-employment figures for September show there are hundreds of thousands of Australians aged 35-49 (335,000) and 50+ (330,000) who are also unemployed and are ignored by this substantial wage subsidy.


Victoria & Queensland have more unemployed workers aged 35+ than New South Wales

This policy will have an out-sized impact on Victoria and Queensland which both have far higher rates of unemployment amongst those aged 35+ than New South Wales.

Locked-down Victoria had 185,000 workers aged 35+ unemployed in September followed closely by Queensland (170,000 unemployed workers). Given the larger population, the 150,000 unemployed workers aged 35+ in New South Wales is a relatively 'good' result compared to its two neighbours.


Roy Morgan unemployment by State & Age (September 2020)

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source September 2020, n=6,092. Base: Australians aged 14+.
Note: Roy Morgan unemployment estimates are actual data while the ABS estimates are seasonally adjusted.


Another 625,000 Australians aged 35+ are under-employed

In addition to hundreds of thousands of unemployed there are another 625,000 Australians aged 35+ who are under-employed – working part-time but looking for more work.

New South Wales has far more under-employed than anywhere else with 220,000 aged 35+ now under-employed compared to 135,000 in Victoria and 130,000 in Queensland.


Roy Morgan under-employment by State & Age (September 2020)

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source September 2020, n=6,092. Base: Australians aged 14+.
Note: Roy Morgan unemployment estimates are actual data while the ABS estimates are seasonally adjusted.


Nearly 1.3 million Australians aged 35+ are unemployed or under-employed
Taken together this is a total of 1.29 million Australians aged 35+ who are either unemployed or under-employed that will be disadvantaged by the ‘JobMaker Hiring Credit’ that incentivises businesses to hire younger workers aged under 35.

In the three largest States there are 370,000 working Australians either unemployed or under-employed in New South Wales, 320,000 in Victoria and a further 300,000 in Queensland.


Total Roy Morgan unemployment & under-employment by State & Age (September 2020)

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source September 2020, n=6,092. Base: Australians aged 14+.
Note: Roy Morgan unemployment estimates are actual data while the ABS estimates are seasonally adjusted.



Michele Levine, CEO Roy Morgan, says:

“Australia faces a huge level of unemployment following the economic ‘shock’ caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared to early March, before the nation-wide lockdown, there are now an additional 1 million Australians either unemployed or under-employed (+6.7% points).

Roy Morgan’s unemployment measure for September shows 1.83 million Australians were unemployed (12.9% of the workforce) and an additional 1.33 million (9.4%) were under-employed. In total 3.16 million Australians (22.3%) were unemployed or under-employed.

“Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s Federal Budget delivered last week was notable for the new ‘JobMaker Hiring Credit’ which is designed to encourage businesses to hire unemployed young Australians aged under 35. A weekly wage subsidy of $200 is provided for any unemployed 16-29yr old hired by a business and a wage subsidy of $100 per week for those aged 30-34.

“However, as today’s special analysis of Roy Morgan’s September unemployment figures show there are almost 1.3 million Australians aged 35+ who are either unemployed or under-employed. In particular there are 665,000 working Australians aged 35+ who are unemployed which includes 185,000 in still locked-down Victoria, 170,000 in closed border Queensland and 150,000 in New South Wales.

“This large cohort of unemployed Australians risks being ‘frozen out’ of employment opportunities as businesses opt to employ younger, cheaper and less experienced workers at their expense – and collect significant wage subsidies to do so.

“In it’s efforts to get the Australian economy ‘moving’ again as it slowly opens up – at least on a domestic level – over the next few months the Federal Government must be careful not to disadvantage large numbers of workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

“The Federal Government’s suite of economic support payments and programmes including JobKeeper, JobSeeker and additional payments to those on other benefits has successfully cushioned most people from the immediate economic effect of COVID-19 and the associated lockdown measures.

“For many, their personal and household financial situation is better than before COVID-19 – more money coming in and less to spend it on. The truth is that the number of people looking for work must go up if we are to get the economy going again. In September this number, and the overall workforce, contracted as the significant Government support measures in place meant people who lost their jobs did not feel the usual pressure to immediately find new employment.

“In recent weeks both JobKeeper and JobSeeker have been reduced. The JobKeeper wage subsidy for full-time workers has been lowered by $300 to $1,200 per fortnight and cut in half to $750 per fortnight for part-time workers. The JobSeeker payment for the unemployed has also been cut by $300 per fortnight.

“The reduction in Government support will force businesses to assess how many of their employees are vital to the business going forward and will at the same time force workers who have been relying on these payments to consider whether they may need to look for better employment opportunities.”


 This Roy Morgan survey on Australia’s 'unemployment' and ‘under-employed’* is based on weekly telephone and online interviews of 6,092 Australians aged 14+ in September 2020. *The ‘under-employed’ are those people who are in part-time work or freelancers who are looking for more work.

*Workforce includes those employed and those looking for work – the unemployed.

For comments or more information please contact:
Roy Morgan - Enquiries
Office: +61 (03) 9224 5309
askroymorgan@roymorgan.com

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size Percentage Estimate
40% – 60% 25% or 75% 10% or 90% 5% or 95%
1,000 ±3.0 ±2.7 ±1.9 ±1.3
5,000 ±1.4 ±1.2 ±0.8 ±0.6
7,500 ±1.1 ±1.0 ±0.7 ±0.5
10,000 ±1.0 ±0.9 ±0.6 ±0.4
20,000 ±0.7 ±0.6 ±0.4 ±0.3
50,000 ±0.4 ±0.4 ±0.3 ±0.2

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