Statis­tics to get a face – and a voice

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

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.

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