Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

January Unemployment Benefit Claims Fall To 13-Year Low

Strong economic growth and job opportunities have resulted in a 5.5% fall in the number of people claiming unemployment benefits in the year to January 2004, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.

According to the latest labour market and related payments figures released by the Department of Family and Community Services there were 630,223 people receiving benefits in January – a fall of 5.5% from January 2003.

Senator Patterson said this was the lowest January figure since January 1991.

She said the number of long-term unemployed clients had decreased by 5.1% since January 2003.

Senator Patterson said the number of long-term jobseekers has dropped by 6.3% from 297,166 in January 2003 to 278,371.

Young unemployed clients numbered 94,664 compared with 97,748 in January 2003 – a 3.2% fall.

Senator Patterson said: “The Howard Government has taken action to address the unemployment rate and since coming to office more than 1.3 million new jobs have been created.

“This is a far cry from the days of Labor when unemployment reached crisis levels. In the recession ‘we had to have’ there were nearly one million Australians unemployed.

“We have the lowest interest rates and lowest inflation in a generation. We have achieved sustained low unemployment rates and we have seen real incomes boosted by 10% since we were elected.”