Unemployment is set to worsen next year, raising questions about the effectiveness of a budget the government claims is about jobs.
Budget documents show Australia’s unemployment rate has continued to deteriorate under the stewardship of Treasurer Joe Hockey, rising from 5.9 per cent in 2013-14 to 6.25 per cent in 2014-15.
In 2015-16, despite a budget ostensibly focused on the economy, the nation’s unemployment rate will continue to rise, peaking at 6.5 per cent.
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In 2016-17 and 2017-18, unemployment will shrink only slowly. It is forecast at 6.25 per cent in 2016-17 and six per cent in 2017-18.
In his address to parliament, Mr Hockey claimed to have released a budget that “unleashes our nation’s potential”.
“We have helped create a quarter of a million new jobs and there are more to come… a lot more,” Mr Hockey said.
But Treasury forecasts of the rate of unemployment could leave Australians asking whether the reality matches the rhetoric.
Australia’s post-mining boom problems are challenging, but not unique.
In the United States, unemployment has fallen from about 8.5 per cent to about 5.5 per cent in three years.
Australia will continue to move in the opposite direction for another year at least, according to Treasury forecasts.
The Abbott government has abandoned its desire for a surplus at all costs, thereby reaping the stimulatory benefits of more government spending.
Economic growth rates are forecast to return to 2.75 per cent in 2015-16 and 3.25 per cent in 2016-17.
The rate of employment growth is anticipated to grow, but it will not be enough to slash unemployment.
Even with extremely low interest rates, a falling Australian dollar and a $5.5 billion jobs and small business package – launched in a lengthy and very glossy pamphlet on budget day – the government seems unable to save a share of Australians from the indignity of having no work.