Breaking the cycle of family joblessness

25 May 2009

Tax cuts, mutual obligation and Labour force flexibility in the Budget could make or break jobless families.

Despite Australia coming off the back of a remarkable economic boom and enjoying historically low unemployment rates, in late 2008 almost one in eight Australian children lived in a family where no parent worked. Unbelievably, this figure is actually a marked improvement: family joblessness reached its peak in the mid-1990s when more than one in six children lived in jobless households.

While there has been some improvement, the statistics on family joblessness still paint a depressing picture. Despite experiencing a lower unemployment rate than most developed countries, Australia has the second highest proportion of jobless families in the OECD.  While this represents a considerable social and economic cost to Australia, the biggest cost is borne by the children of jobless parents, who are significantly disadvantaged compared to their peers.

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