The latest youth unemployment figures are startling. The highest percentage of 15-24 year olds in a decade is jobless.
The evidence is in. Mandatory minimum wages have locked a significant portion of an entire generation out of the workforce. Surely these latest figures must shock the Federal Government into action.
It is unacceptable to have a youth unemployment rate more than double that of the overall figure. Employment Minister Eric Abetz is quoted in The Australian today saying that the rising youth joblessness is his greatest concern with the latest labour data from the ABS. The solutions he proffers today are further government subsidies to and a renewed commitment to “Work for the Dole.”
The time is long past due for a meaningful solution to out of control youth unemployment in Australia. Government subsidy after government subsidy and increasing the burden on the taxpayer will not address the problem. It has been tried for decades now, the problem persists.
Government can only be the solution in one way, by removing the shackles from business. Only by removing the disincentive to employ youth will the jobless figures shrink. If the Federal Government is serious about fixing the problem, it must cease tinkering around the edges with subsidies and welfare programs. Now is the time to rectify the underlying problem and remove the shackle that is the minimum wage. Do we want a small few being paid what the government tells businesses they can afford? Or do we want the great many earning a fair and competitive wage that business can actually afford? Unless we are content with permanently locking youth out of employment, something has got to change. If youth unemployment really is a great concern to the Federal Government and it wants to reduce joblessness, the best thing it can possibly do is get rid of the regulatory barriers it has put in place. The minimum wage isn’t helping our youth; it is hurting them quite badly.
James Duncan is Administration and Research Officer at the H. R. Nicholls Society