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Fact sheet

Fact Check: Does being unemployed for a year nearly halve your chances of ever working again?

Unemployment Global Financial Crisis (2008-2009) Long-term unemployment Social services Australia

Cassandra Goldie, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Services, has urged the federal government to better support people who find themselves unemployed, after economic modelling suggested more than a quarter of Australians may lose their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Goldie said the 20008-09 global financial crisis showed that people unemployed for more than a year had seen their chances of ever finding work roughly halved.

Indeed, studies show the longer a person is unemployed, the slimmer their employment chances become. 

Though the evidence relied on by Dr Goldie does not allow for precise calculations of a person’s employment prospects during the first 12 months,  experts said it was likely they were roughly halved after a year. The numbers suggest people unemployed for 1-2 years have a 44 per cent smaller chance of finding work within the next year than people unemployed for less than three months. For those unemployed longer, the likelihood is even slimmer.

While experts were not aware of any studies that specifically showed what happened to people who lost their jobs during the global financial crisis, they said it was reasonable to use past experience as a rough guide.

They also said there were several reasons why people unemployed long-term may see their job prospects diminish, meaning it was not simply down to the length of their unemployment spell.

Verdict: Dr Goldie’s claim is a fair call.

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