Mature age unemployment twice as long
Plan to create jobs for older Australian will have to overcome decades of entrenched habits.
The government plans to introduce a $10,000 subsidy for employers who hire workers aged over 50, in a program it calls Restart.
But according to the hard data, discrimination against older workers has been around so long it’s practically rusted onto the national psyche.
In good times and bad, it seems older workers are doomed to spend twice as long looking for a job.
Figures dividing the labour force into over-50s and under-50s aren’t available, but whichever way the numbers are sliced, the picture is clear.
In April, the average unemployed person aged 55 years or more had been looking for a job for just over a year – 53 weeks, according to official figures released on Thursday.
Under-55s had been looking for just under 37 weeks.
That’s a big gap, but the figures are fairly volatile from month to month and was actually smaller than usual in April.
For older workers, the ratio fluctuates around two weeks spent unemployed for every one week a younger jobseeker spends looking for work.
The average for the past year is typical – the younger group was jobless for 35 weeks while older jobseekers were out of work for 65 weeks.
And it’s nothing new.
Over the 12 months to April 2009, it was 29 weeks for under-55s versus 65 weeks for the 55-and-over group.
In 2004, it was 43 weeks for the younger group and 104 weeks – or two years – for the older age group.
The duration of unemployment estimates produced by the bureau of statistics extend back to 1978, although the earlier figures are compiled on a slightly different basis.
But those figures tell the same story.
The very first month of data on record, February 1978, shows under-55s out of work an average 19 weeks, with 55-and-overs taking 35 weeks to get a job.
Over the entire series, which covers two recessions as well as all the better times before and since, the average for under-55s is 41 weeks out of work, compared with 94 for the 55-and-overs.
Garry Shilson-Josling, AAP EconomistFrom: AAP May 15, 2014 The Australian
Mature Age employment to be discussed at the Long Term Unemployment Conference