Last week, the Bureau of Statistics released figures for youth unemployment in Australia, finding that unemployment among young people is as high as it has ever been since June of 1997.
The report suggested that young people are responding to the weak unemployment figure by not giving up and by continuing to look for work and maintaining their education whilst they do so.
What this suggested is that youth are either earning or learning in greater numbers than ever before.
The statistics showed that despite youth unemployment being at 20% among 15-19 year olds, there seems to be a show of optimism because the percentage of youth in the labour force – either working or trying to get work – has actually increased in the past year.
The data shows there are more youth than ever before either in the labour force or in education, and history also shows that the key to getting more youth employed is the same as all other age groups – stronger economic growth.
In December, just a record low 3.99% of 15 to 19-year-olds were not in either the labour force or in education; and a record high 92.6% who were either working or learning or doing both.
Today we see more young people who are involved in either TAFE, university or high school as well as being in the workforce.
Back in 1992 when youth unemployment hit 25%, just 17.7% of youth were both working and attending education; now that figure is up to 27.6%. By contrast, back then 24.5% of youth were only working, compared with 16.2% of youth now.
In other words, young people are viewing the weak workforce as an opportunity to pick up study or enrol in higher education in order to build upon their skills while they wait for more employment opportunities to open up.
This study is interesting because it shows that rather than having people give up on looking for work when unemployment is high (as what usually has happened in the past) youth are actually participating more through either staying in, or enrolling in education for their own satisfaction – without the government having to tell them to do so.
Meanwhile, the ABS showed that there are almost 800,000 Australians now looking for work.
The figures, released last Thursday, also showed that Australia’s estimated seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January 2015 was 6.4 per cent, compared with 6.1 per cent for December 2014. The ABS also revealed that the seasonally adjusted number of people unemployed increased by 34,500 to 795,200 in January 2015.