Long-term youth unemployment triples since financial crisis

The AustralianApril 14, 2014

THE number of long-term ­unemployed young people has trebled since the global financial crisis and has grown fastest over the past year, new analysis from a national welfare charity has found.

Data compiled by the Brotherhood of St Laurence shows that one of the key indicators — length of time spent without work — is heading for the “worst-case scenario”. The unemployment rate for people aged 15 to 24 is more than double the national ­average at 12.5 per cent — and the proportion of those who had spent a year or more out of work now accounts for almost one-fifth of all the unemployed youth.

“I fear the worst-case scenario is already unfolding,” the Brotherhood’s executive director Tony Nicholson told The Australian. “These are large numbers of long-term unemployed people at risk of never getting a foothold in work, of never being able to pursue their aspirations or build a life for themselves.”

The Brotherhood’s used ABS data to analyse the long-term ­unemployment trends among teenagers and young adults.

Geelong-born and raised Kathrine Reynolds, 22, has been out of work for a year and only sporadically employed since she finished Year 12 in 2010.

“I have a future that I am trying to live for and it’s just knock-back, knock-back, knock-back,” she said.

“Because I’ve lost jobs before, I got into depression and I told myself it wouldn’t happen this time … but I found myself spiralling out of control. It’s a real struggle.”

The well-spoken young woman, whose father was ­recently made redundant after working for decades in a Geelong factory, tried first to become an apprentice chef and then an apprentice baker.

“Now I’m being told I’m too old for some jobs and not ex­perienced enough for others,” she said.

“I’m lucky in one way because I’m living at home but then, I’d ­really like to be out in the world living by myself or with others but I just can’t do that at the ­moment.”

The long-term unemployment number in the 15- to 24-year-old age bracket jumped 34 per cent in the last year across the country, 100 per cent in Queensland and 75 per cent from a low base in Western Australia.

In Tasmania, almost one-third of unemployed young people have been for a year or more.

Funding for national “youth transitions” programs designed to help young people find work and complete education goals ends this year, and there has been no ­indication from the federal ­government that new programs will take their place.