22,660 Dole Bludgers?

Cairns Post($) have jumped onboard:

Cairns jobs: Frustration over numbers on JobSeeker

An influx of jobs is becoming available across FNQ as businesses rebuild from a challenging year, but a lack of interest from those “enjoying” government subsidies is sparking frustration.

Inclusive of the usual anecdotal commentary from self-serving business leaders as well as numbers from local economic consultant Bill Cummings:

According to data revealed by Cummings Economics from Australian Department of Social Services, 22,660 people from Cairns, Cassowary Coast, Tablelands, Mareeba and Douglas areas were receiving JobSeeker and Youth Allowances in October.

“Numbers on JobSeeker and Youth Allowance (Other) payments now equate to about 17 per cent of the workforce.”

Well at least Bill used the right numbers this time but then managed to get his sums wrong. Meanwhile the un-News Canberra Times has reported the issue differently:

A leading labour market economist has shot down suggestions the elevated dole rate is discouraging people from job hunting.

“I don’t see any evidence that the COVID-19 supplement has been a substantial or really any type of major disincentive for people to move into work from unemployment,” he told the committee on Wednesday. Professor Borland said there had always been some employers reporting difficulty recruiting, which was the nature of the labour market. “To think the COVID-19 supplement was having a major disincentive effect, you would want to be looking at Australia-wide systematic evidence that showed up in the aggregate data,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been looking at and I don’t see effects there.”

Never mind, Sally knows better. Let’s go back to Bill’s numbers where I have updated from a previous post:

Jobseeker rant 1

There is a trivial issue here around the SA2 numbers for Wooroonooran which is a region covering mostly uninhabited national park within the Innisfail-Tully SA4. Numbers less than 5 in the data are not reported to protect confidentiality and just reported as <5. Most recent ABS data for Wooroonooran indicates a population of 3. I have just included it all as 5 to be conservative and consistent. Bill apparently has done it as 5 or 0 at different times. Despite that he also manages to tabulate the peak May number 100 too high and the most recent October number something like 380 too low. Note: I am the one who is not the most regarded economic consultant in Cairns.

However 36% of the loss from March to May has now been recovered. Let’s go back and look at JobSeekers following my previous post and commentary:

What it perhaps should focus attention on is not the labour market but that the JobSeeker boost disproportionately advantaged Cairns relative to other regions with fiscal stimulus.

JobSeekers evolved from NewStart in March when the shit hit the fan. I will come back to this next and look at the JobSeeker numbers and why the supplement has actually disproportionately boosted Cairns and consequently why current media comments from the business community are just graceless nonsense.


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