Statistics to get a face – and a voice
UNEMPLOYMENT statistics are, by nature, dehumanising.
The misery of each and every frustrated jobseeker is redefined as a faceless number.
What’s more, those statistics are consistently inaccurate, in that they dramatically underestimate the true level of unemployment in any given region.
In Townsville, for instance, our official jobless rate is 10.1 per cent.
But you only have to work for two hours to be counted as employed.
How much higher would that figure be if it also somehow reflected the level of underemployment: those people who would work more if they had the chance.
So while 10.1 per cent is an unacceptably high figure, the real number is undoubtedly and tragically higher.
And it is not hyperbole to describe this situation as tragic.
Denying somebody the dignity of meaningful employment is to snatch away their sense of purpose and wellbeing. It is souldestroying.
When it is widespread, it erodes a city’s morale and its identity.
It is one reason we have endured an unprecedented crime wave.
But when this disaster is expressed as numbers on a table, it is harder to comprehend the human toll.
That is why today we are giving those numbers a face – and a voice.
Every jobseeker has a story that deserves to be heard. Today they have that platform. If it results in some of us pausing to think about their plight, it will have served a purpose.
If it culminates in any of them getting a job, even better.
Because ultimately, we as a city are the sum of all our parts, and at times our strongest need is to reach out to those in need.
Since Clive Palmer callously dumped 800 workers on to the scrapheap early last year, the Bulletin has campaigned for all levels of government and, to a lesser extent, our businesses, to respond to our jobs crisis.
We have railed for more expenditure on vital infrastructure, better training and education of our young and a sharper focus on local workers and local firms for government projects.
But governments can and should only do so much. In the end, it is up to all of us to fight this scourge.