The total number of Autralians receiving unemployment benefits has dwindled by 42,000 people, or 5 per cent, over the past year.
Over 8,000 of those 42,000 Australians are young people who have found full-time work or study after getting Youth Allowance payments, according to new figures released by the government.
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But it’s not all good news.
The number of people on Newstart in some geographic regions has actually risen by as much as 10 per cent, The Guardian reported.
Those in remote areas are hotspots for unemployment: Northern Territory’s Palmerston recording a 20 per cent increase in people claiming Newstart or Youth Allowance, jumping from 1,119 to 1,366 people.
Meanwhile, South of Brisbane, the number of people on welfare benefits in Jimboomba and Beaudesert jumped by 4.2 per cent and 4.5 per cent respectively.
However, numbers dwindled in East Canberra, Melbourne suburbs of Brunswick, Manningham, Stonnington and Darebin, with all of these suburbs seeing a drop of more than 16 per cent in the number of people claiming the Newstart allowance, according to The Guardian.
What has led to the overall drop of Aussies on Newstart?
On Sunday, social services minister Anne Rushton said new jobs and new employment pathways had led to fewer Newstart recipients.
"If you are unemployed and you're on Newstart, we will do everything that we possibly can to get you off Newstart and into a job," the senator told reporters in Adelaide.
Meanwhile, older Aussies need “a particular set of assistance”, Rushton said.
“That's why we're not just saying a one size fits all model here, we need initiatives that are targeting each and every cohort that currently find themselves without a job.”
Morrison rejects calls to raise Newstart
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pushed back against growing calls from across the political spectrum to raise the Newstart payment.
“I heard the other day they were thinking of increasing the Newstart payment,” he told reporters in late November.
“Well I’ve got to tell you, if I thought I had the money to do that, I reckon I’d be doing it for pensioners first.”
Currently, the Newstart allowance – paid fortnightly – is $555.70 for singles, while singles with a dependent child receive $601.10.
But a major report by Deloitte Access Economics in September 2018 found that the allowance had not increased in real terms for a quarter of a century due to the way it’s indexed to prices rather than wages.
Deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has been one voice among others calling for Newstart to be raised, with other voices including Labor, the Greens, Dick Smith, business and welfare lobby groups, seniors, doctors, the Reserve Bank, and the Country Women's Association.
Submissions to a Senate inquiry into the adequacy of Newstart payments will close on 13 September this year, with a report to be prepared by 27 March 2020.
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