Unemployment, particularly long term unemployment, is the most savage cause of poverty and disadvantage in our community. It is the cause of enormous personal and financial hardship for hundreds of thousands of people and their families. Unemployment is the greatest determiner of poverty and exclusion--and that is why the fight against unemployment is so critically important. However it is said that this battle can only result in victory by concentrating on providing jobs and opportunities rather than penalties or slogans.
The importance of employment can only be explained, in that undertaking paid work fulfils many functions in our society. Employment is the main way of receiving money and thus survival, but we also often gain our sense of identity, self-worth and social connections through the paid work we do. Unemployment is the condition of one who is capable of working, actively seeking work but is unable to secure a paid job.
However, it is essential to note that to be considered unemployed, a person must be an active member of the labour force and in search of remunerative work.
In March 2002, the ABS estimated that 622,300 people were unemployed in Australia at a rate of 6.3 per cent. This is disturbing, in itself, but the figures would be even higher if the definition of unemployment was not so narrow. While the unemployment rate is useful, it also has some very real limitations. It does not represent what jobs are disappearing or being created, whether they are part-time or full-time, permanent or casual. It also does not reflect upon whether people are working too many hours or not enough hours, or the amount of time they remain without work. Unemployment is not a problem solely for those without paid work; it is a problem for all of us. If people...