Youth Unemployment Rate in Australia Hits 12.5%; Average Time to Get Hired Goes Up to 29 Weeks

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By Vittorio Hernandez | April 15, 2014 8:31 AM EST

While spin doctors of the Abbott government would probably use last week's data from the Australian Bureau Statistics' unemployment rate to boast of the government's economic management style, a look at youth unemployment figures is cause for alarm.

The bureau released data on Friday that for March, Australia's joblessness rate actually went down to 5.8 per cent instead of going up to 6.1 per cent as forecast by economists.

However, like other developed countries such as Spain and Greece where young people find it harder to get employment compared to their more experienced and older counterparts, Australian youth are on the losing end.

Australia's youth unemployment rate has grown three times to 12.5 per cent since the global financial crisis in 2008, causing 257,000 young Aussies in the age bracket 15 to 24 to be jobless. Of this number, 50,000 have been searching for jobs the past 12 months and were not successful.

Also on the rise is the length of time it gets to be hired which has gone up to 29 weeks from only 16 weeks in 2008.

One of the worst hit Australian states is New South Wales where 74,000 youth are unemployed and 14,200 of them tried but failed to get a job the past year, said a separate report prepared by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and released on Monday.

Commenting on the dismal numbers, Tony Nicholson, executive director of the Brotherhood, noted that the globalised economy made it harder for young people without work experience and university degrees to find employment.

He suggested, quoted by Illiwarra Mercury, "Australia needs a new approach to assist unemployed youth to build their qualifications, skills and experience to obtain a job in the modern economy."

Mr Nicholson warned that prolonged periods of unemployment in their younger days would boost their chance of remaining jobless in their adult working years. "The catch-22 for our young people is that the longer they're out of work, the harder it is to find a job," he added.

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