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The number that doesn't get enough attention in our national debate

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There’s one number that doesn’t get nearly enough attention in our national debate: 713,000. That’s how many Australians are unemployed according to the Bureau of Statistics’ latest seasonally adjusted estimate. It's up by around 46,000 since the beginning of this year.

Our unemployment rate has drifted up since February. At 5.2 per cent it is now considerably higher than nations we often compared ourselves to including the United States (3.7 per cent), New Zealand (3.9 per cent) and even Brexit-plagued Britain (3.9 per cent).


It’s surprising how infrequently the problem of unemployment has featured in our political debate lately.

Considering the marked rise in the number of Australians without a job this year you might expect the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, to have been grilled about it regularly.

But when I reviewed transcripts of the 20 media interviews conducted with the Treasurer over the past month I found just one question about unemployment (asked at press conference in Canberra on September 4).

And there were no questions about the growing problem of underemployment. The latest figures show 1.14 million Australians were underemployed in July, which means they were working part-time but want more paid hours. That tally is up by 36,000 since the beginning of the year. With economic growth now at a decade low of 1.4 per cent might circumstances push unemployment and........

© Brisbane Times