Why jobseeker is stuck 'in the early 90s' and leaving Australians behind

by Josh Nicholas

05 March 2021

People receiving jobseeker spend disproportionately on these “basics”, says Ben Phillips, principal research fellow at the Centre for Social Research and Methods. But average weekly earnings for everyone else has grown significantly over the past few decades, leading to a huge divergence in what and where Australians spend their money.

“Higher-income people tend to spend more money on things that have been coming down in price,” Phillips says. “They tend to spend their money on things like airfares, audiovisual equipment, cars – things like that. And so lower-income families, and particularly those on government benefits, tend to spend more money on the basics of life like utilities.

“[The unemployment benefit] really leaves you at a living standard that was back in the early 1990s rather than moving forward like the rest of us have done.”

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