Australian Young People Suffer More in Weak Jobs Market

By AAP
July 26, 2020 Updated: July 27, 2020

Young Australians have been struggling to find employment in their desired occupation since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis and any improvement is unlikely for some time yet given the economic impact of COVID-19.

This could have a long-term effect on their career, the Productivity Commission warns in a new report.

Commissioner Catherine de Fontenay says there has been a substantial increase in university graduates in Australia over the last ten years or so.

“Unfortunately, for many graduates that has just meant more competition to enter their chosen profession,” she said releasing the report on July 27.

Since 2008, the report found young people’s job prospects and the growth in their salaries were worse than those of workers aged 35 and over, and compared to young people prior to the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).

While Australia avoided the worst of the GFC and was one a few countries to avoid a recession, its after affects combined with a post-mining boom slowdown led to a decade of relatively weak labour demand from 2008.

Although this did not show up in a higher unemployment rate that characterised the 1991 recession, there was increased part-time employment.

This resulted in lower starting wages for young people and a constrained choice in occupations despite increased education.

The report found since 2008 a larger share of graduates found jobs that are considered the lower end of the jobs ladder—such as storepersons, shelf fillers, cafe workers and other hospitality workers.

This in turn has affected their career progression.

“For graduates who found employment lower down the ladder, it was difficult to recover,” the report says.

“While young people’s career prospects might have recovered once the labour market improved, such improvement is now unlikely for some time, given the COVID-19 crisis.”

Colin Brinsden in Canberra