JobSeekers are facing rate cuts – and fewer vacancies

Labor has criticised the Morrison government over plans to reduce the JobSeeker benefit while the unemployment crisis deepens

JobSeekers are facing rate cuts – and fewer vacancies

The gap between the number of JobSeekers and jobs available across Australia is widening as the unemployment crisis deepens. The disparity is greatest in regional Australia, new data suggest.

In June, an estimated 740,000 unemployed workers in the regions were on JobSeeker. The federal aid program requires beneficiaries to apply for a certain number of jobs per month – this is part of their mutual obligation requirements to remain on the program.

But as government data showed, the ratio of JobSeekers to job openings in regional Australia was at 28 candidates for every vacancy. There were only 25,000 openings in June, according to the figures posted by the Department of Jobs and Small Business.

In capital cities, meanwhile, the ratio of candidates to vacancy was about 13 to 1, with an estimated 873,000 job hunters vying for only 63,000 open positions. The numbers were collated before a second wave of COVID-19 infections affected Victoria.

Read more: Unemployment figures released

The Department of Social Services released the unemployment statistics after Labor shadow minister Linda Burney called for an increase in JobSeeker rates.

The Morrison government is set to slash the rates from $1,115 (for recipients who are single and have no dependents) to about $815 beginning Sept. 25, and again to $565 by the end of 2020, even as the country falls into recession.

“A snapback of JobSeeker places millions of Australians at risk of poverty, and will threaten our economic recovery before it has even begun,” Burney said on her official website.

Labor has criticised the Morrison government over the plans, forecasting the rate cuts could lead to another wave of job cuts.

Read more: New data confirms Australia is in recession

In addition to higher unemployment, the reduced payments could have a ripple effect on consumer spending. Australians would lose $375m which could otherwise be pumped back into the economy.

“The Prime Minister is withdrawing support for Australians and the economy,” said Labor leader Anthony Albanese.

Labor is asking the government to “develop a plan to create jobs for Australians, instead of withdrawing support and cutting wages,” he said.

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