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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Underemployment: an economic tool in the national interest?

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The Australian Bureau of Statistics has to-day released figures on underemployment in Australia as at September 20005. You can find them here. The ABS figures are numbers. What do they mean? The figures mean that there are Australians out there ready, willing and able to undertake full time employment and they are searching for it. The figures mean that there are Australians out there who are being marginalized from full participaption in national economic life. The figures mean that there are Australians out there who can only find insecure employment. The figures mean there are Australians out there who are

  • having difficulty making ends meet
  • having difficulty getting and paying a mortgage
  • having difficulty funding the best health, education, and sporting activity for their children
  • having difficulty in accessing further education and training to become and remain competitive in the labour market
  • having the prospect of losing what skills they already have
  • having difficulty in building an appropriate superannuation nest egg for their old age.

Isn't this wonderful? Yet the rich personally and corporately minimise their taxes to obscene proportions; pressure politicians for even more tax cuts; and some even wonder why they should pay tax at all.

Full participation in the national economy is important for us all: rich and poor; business and consumer; government and corporate; young and old. An economy that is not built on equity is built on instability, on the volcano that one day might erupt.