Australia’s official unemployment rate currently sits at 5.7 per cent. At face value, this seems a reasonable figure, but according to economist Jason Murphy, the data tells a darker tale.
Using the latest ABS Participation, Job Search and Mobility data, Mr Murphy has created a ‘Hopelessness index’ by comparing a segment’s unemployment numbers against the number of employed people in that segment who started a job in the past 12 months.
For example, the Northern Territory has 5200 people currently unemployed, while 31,000 employed people started a job in the past 12 months. This means that the Northern Territory has a Hopelessness rating of 16.7 per cent, which is by far the lowest in the country. On the other side of the scale, Tasmania, which has 18,000 unemployed people and 35,000 employed people who started a job in the past 12 months. The result is a Hopelessness rating of 51.4 per cent, the highest in the country.
When you do the same analysis by age group, the data paints a disturbing picture for older Australian job seekers. The 60–64 age group tops the Hopelessness index by age group, scoring over 75 per cent on the scale. Second highest on the scale is the 65–69 age group, scoring around 60 per cent, closely followed by the 55–59 age group, with around 55 per cent. The 25–34 age group scored the lowest rating at under 30 per cent.
The data presented by Mr Murphy is confronting for anyone in the 55-plus age group who is looking for a job.
Old does not mean obsolete. In fact, all around the world we look to the 55+ age group to fill the most important roles. Take the upcoming US presidential election, where 70-year-old Donald Trump will battle 68-year-old Hillary Clinton for the top job. Looking closer to home, our current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is 61 years old. Let’s also not forget the leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, who is 79 years of age.
Age is only a number, but it seems to be a defining difference in the current Australian workforce. Unemployed workers in these age groups bring a solid work ethic and experience to the table, but what hope do they have when the person conducting the interview is a 30-something who can’t relate to that age and stage of life?
As a nation, we are wasting precious human resources. I’m not talking about coal, gold or copper, but the irreplaceable experience of our older workers that needs to be passed down through the workforce. It’s time for a Federal Government to do more than they already are to showcase and promote the older worker as an asset.
What do you think? Are you 55+? Have you experienced the struggle of finding a job in the current Australian workforce? Should more be done to embrace the skills and experience offered by older workers? And, if so, what?