While the McGowan government spent time in parliament this week trying to defend the indefensible, arguing for an amnesty for foreign nationals who break visa conditions.  The Morrison government set their sights on fixing Australia’s youth unemployment, which really is a tragedy. As the PM stated “youth unemployment sets young people up for a life of welfare dependency”.

The Morrison government will pay businesses up to $200 a week to hire young Australians.[1] A measure that aims to reverse the significant increase in youth unemployment during the recession.

However, the Government still have a lot of work to do with cutting back their huge migration program for when the international borders come down. The Government is well aware that youth unemployment is adversely impacted by Australia’s enormous temporary migration intake (particularly by foreign students with automatic working rights). [2]

West Australia unemployment outcomes for September 2020

The Australian Bureau of Statistics youth unemployment figures paint a grim picture for September 2020 (see Table 1 below). There was an increase in West Australia’s youth (15-24 age) official unemployment rate to 14.3% (31,000 people). [3]

But this is only half the picture. Over 15,000 young adults have been stood down (zero hours) since the coronavirus outbreak in March. There are now 46,500 WA youth not in the Labour force, and an effective unemployment rate of 21.4%.

What about total unemployment? This did fair somewhat better the official rate falling to 6.7% (97,000 unemployed). [4]But underemployment is still high at 9.3% this works out to 134,800 people who want more work, and are available for more hours of work than they currently have.

National youth unemployment

Total youth unemployment in Australia is rising to such levels that have led the Morrison government to provide extra funding for businesses that put young Australian’s first in line for new vacancies.

Australian youth unemployment rose to 14.5% for September, resulting in over 300,000 young Australian’s unemployed. It gets worse; nearly 110,000 have been stood down since the pandemic hit peak infections in March 2020. Total Australian youth out of work is 412,670, with an effective rate of 19.7%.

Table 1: West Australia youth labour force (15-24 age) September 2020

MonthLabour force total (000’S)Official total unemployed (000’s)Official unemployment rate
 Temporarily stood down (000’s)Official unemployed plus stood down (000’s)Unemployment plus stood down (effective rate)
March – Sep 2020 15.580 46.55821.4%

(Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2020.[5])


[1] Daniel Hirst, ‘Budget’s Jobmaker Hiring Credit Will Pay Businesses $200 a Week to Employ Young Australians’, The Guardian, 2020 <> [accessed 18 October 2020].

[2] Australian Government Productivity Commission, ‘Migrant Intake into Australia – Productivity Commission Inquiry Report’, 2016 <> [accessed 23 February 2019].

[3] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘Labour Force, Australia, September 2020 | Australian Bureau of Statistics’, 2020 <> [accessed 15 October 2020].

[4] Australian Bureau of Statistics.

[5] Australian Bureau of Statistics.

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