Trend Jobseekers continue to fall despite rises in unemployed

The Dept of Social Services original Jobseekers data for November, released today, allows us to update our Conus/CBC Staff Selection Trend Jobseeker series for Cairns and Townsville. It shows that, while the number unemployed has lifted in recent months, the Trend number of people claiming Youth and Newstart Allowances has conitnued its decline.

In Cairns we see a 9.2% reduction in the number of Jobseekers over the year to November to 7,879 while in Townsville the decline is 8.9% for the year to 6,728.

These declines are broadly in line with, or slightly better than, the declines seen across Queensland as a whole where Trend Jobseekers have fallen 8.3% over the year. Over the same period the Trend number unemployed has risen 7.4%. The two measures (Jobseeker and unemployed) are very different but nevertheless, as the chart below makes clear, and as you might expect the two series have historically had a broad correlation with each other. Over the past couple of years that relationship has appeared to break down completely and we now have the bizarre situation where the two are moving in virtually completly different directions.

It needs to be noted that the qualification for people to receive Youth or Newstart allowances changes over time and that this can make historical comparison difficult. The only significant change made recently that might help to explain this break down in the relationship between the number unemployed and those classified as Jobseekers was made in Jan 2016. To quote the Dept of Social Services explanatory notes…

“From 1 January 2016, to receive Youth Allowance (other) young people without a Year 12 or equivalent qualification (Certificate III) will need to participate in :

  • approved full-time study, or
  • a combination of 25 hours a week of approved part-time study and part-time work , or
  • other approved activities of 25* hours per week, in addition to up to 20 job searches each month (noting that it is * 15 hours a week for early school leavers with a partial capacity to work or who are principal carer parents and have part-time requirements)

until they attain Year 12 or equivalent, or a Certificate III, or turn 22 years of age.”

Whilst these additional requirements might account for some of the reduction in Jobseekers we should note that Youth Allowance (other) recipents (the category to which these changes applied) account for only about 1/8th of all Jobseekers. Clearly there is something else going on which is reducing the number of those claiming these allowances. Unravelling the answer will likely take some time but we shall endeavour to do so in coming weeks.

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