Treasurer Wants Taylor Swift To Sing About Youth Jobs

"My generation is the first that will be totally priced out of the housing market".

What you need to know
  • Youth unemployment in Australia fell to 11.3 percent -- the lowest rate in six years
  • Young women are faring best, and snapping up far more new jobs then men
  • There are concerns the figures conceal the problem of 'underemployment'

When the Australian Treasurer starts making references to Taylor Swift, it's hard to look away.

There's no doubt it's difficult to make unemployment rates as catchy a Swift song, but that didn't stop Scott Morrison from trying, as he unveiled the latest job figures.

Here's the good news.

Women aged 15-24 have taken up 60,000 new jobs since this time last year. These rates are the best Australia has seen since 1988/89.

"That was the year Taylor Swift was born," Treasurer Scott Morrison said.

"I reckon that would be something for Taylor Swift to sing about”.

Morrison touted these figures as proof the government delivered on “jobs and growth” -- but do they tell the whole story?

Young women's unemployment rate is now just 9.4 percent compared with 13.3 percent for men.

Peri Maniakas said finding more work is "extremely difficult". IMAGE: Supplied

Technically, you're employed if you work one hour a week. While youth unemployment levels get lower, there's another number that also gets a lot of attention — underemployment.

When it comes to underemployment, as a nation we just can't seem to Shake It Off -- Morrison isn't the only one allowed to channel Taylor Swift.

It's hard to quantify exactly who is underemployed -- this is when someone's  job doesn't use all their skills, education, or availability to work.

It's been estimated that around a third of all young Australians are either not working or not getting the hours they want.

Enter 20-year-old Peri Maniakas.

Some weeks, she works as little as four hours, although she's desperate to work more.

"I have a couple of jobs. Most of them involve working with children like coaching sports at a high school and running activities with primary school kids during holidays," she said.

The Sydney student said she's always on the lookout for extra work.

"Finding work is extremely difficult. It's hard to find work when most employees are looking for ' experienced people' but no one will give you the experience you need," Maniakas said. 

Maniakas is conscious of her growing university debt.

"Especially because as a 20-year-old I need to save for my future and the living expenses just keep rising," she told ten daily.

The President of the National Union of Students said this is an issue plaguing young people.

"Underemployment is rife, and my generation is the first that will be totally priced out of the housing market,"  Mark Pace told ten daily.

Pace said most young people work in hospitality and retail, and both industries have had their penalty rates cut for the second year in a row.

"The majority of young workers are casual workers and many have seen penalty rates cuts recently, and this has impacted the way we can pay bills and live day to day," he said.

IMAGE: Getty Images

Professor Richard Holden from the School of Business at the University of New South Wales, said the current job rate for young females is promising.

"One thing we do know is that young women have been doing better in secondary and tertiary education for some time. Just look at the average ATAR for boys and girls," Holden said.

He pointed out stagnant wage growth as a cause for concern -- across the board.

"While things are looking up, wage growth hasn't been very good, it's around 1.9 percent. Inflation is about the same so really that means wage growth has been zero," he said.

Holden said whether you stop studying at high school or get a degree at university, the most crucial window for employment is the first year after graduating.

"One of the things that is extremely important is that when a young person finishes studying -- at whatever level -- their employment in the first 12 months turns out to be a really important marker for the rest of their working lives."