Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

May unemployment benefit numbers fall to 13-year low

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits in May has fallen to its lowest level in 13 years.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said there were 604,968 people receiving unemployment benefits in May – a fall of 31,043 or 4.9% from May 2003.

This is the lowest May figure since May 1991.

The Department of Family and Community Services’ latest labour market and related payments figures were released today.

Senator Patterson said there were 426,071 jobseekers in May, which was 39,438 or 8.5% lower than May 2003.

“The number of long-term jobseekers in May has declined by 21,404 or 7.9% from 271,109 in May 2003 to 249,705,” she said.

“Young unemployed clients numbered 84,534 compared with 87,457 in May 2003. This was a fall of 3.3%.”

Senator Patterson said strong economic growth and good economic management over the past eight years under the Howard Government had helped to create 1.3 million new jobs.

“One of the best things any government can do to help people is to create jobs.

“In the past six months there have been double the number of full-time jobs created than in the last six years of the previous Labor government.

“The Howard Government has taken action to address the unemployment rate, which is at a 23-year low. This is a far cry from the days of Labor when unemployment reached crisis levels.

“In Labor’s so-called ‘recession we had to have’ there were nearly one million Australians unemployed.”