Are unemployment benefits adequate in Australia?

by Richard Denniss and David Baker

The role of unemployment benefits is to insulate people from the severe financial hardship of going to work one day and discovering that they no longer have a job. Few people earning $60,000 per year, raising children and attempting to repay their home loan can afford to remain unemployed for more than a few months before facing the likelihood of losing their home. Indeed, few people in Australia believe that the current unemployment benefit of $245 per week is sufficient to cover even the most basic costs of living. This paper considers the adequacy of existing unemployment benefits in Australia. It provides data on the relative decline in the value of unemployment benefits and presents new survey evidence on community perceptions about the adequacy of unemployment benefits.

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