Think tank Per Capita has released a discussion paper looking at the economic cost of underemployment in Australia, before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It points to Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data from April, where the monthly increase of underemployment was 50 per cent, or more than 600,000 people.
The labour force under-utilisation rate is about 20 per cent, so one in five Australians does not have sufficient work to support themselves and their families.
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The report said that there was a crisis of insecure work before COVID-19, with wages and productivity being suppressed by slack in the labour market. Report author Matthew Lloyd-Cape said underemployment is one of the biggest drags on the economy.
“(It’s) stifling wages and consumption, fuelling the productivity crisis and ruining careers,” he said.
Australia’s 20 per cent youth underemployment was among the highest of any advanced economy before coronavirus.
It’s now at more than 27 per cent, with more than a quarter of young people in the labour market unable to find enough hours.
Per Capita said eliminating underemployment could inject more than $24 billion in wages into the economy each year while providing the government with billions in tax revenue.
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A leaked draft of the National COVID-19 Commission manufacturing report has detailed the key industries Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been advised to target “immediately” to unlock billions of dollars to save Australia from economic ruin.
The interim taskforce report – obtained by Sky News Political Editor Andrew Clennell – revealed the gas and manufacturing industries would be the Coalition’s major focus.
“We need to be decisive and begin immediately to create an Australian gas market that delivers globally competitive results,” the report said.
The report has also called for the creation of a “competitive domestic gas market”, including removing barriers to supply, building the bridge of supply in the near term, lowering the cost of pipelines, completing then network of pipelines to markets.
Focusing on the energy industry is predicted to create up to 170,000 well-paid direct jobs and up to 800,000 indirect jobs which the report predicted could generate between $10-20 billion in direct GDP.
It would also help “support the reskilling of many of those affected by current pandemic” and diversify the economy.
By 2030, up to 412,000 new jobs could be created by boosting gas alone.
The report also mentioned the need for a new Manufacturing Board to be set up under the Industry Minister to develop a 10-year policy plan on manufacturing for annual review.
Industry Minister Karen Andrews’s office told Sky News the new taskforce could “stimulate the sector” and grow domestic manufacturing.
“The National Covid Coordination Commission established a manufacturing taskforce to develop ideas that could stimulate the sector,” she said.
“Any suggestions made by this Taskforce are to the NCCC for consideration and not from the Government. Any final suggestions from the Taskforce may feed into the work being done across a range of portfolios, led by the Industry Minister, to grow Australian manufacturing.”