Notes on the data: Income support

People receiving an unemployment benefit, June 2020

Policy context: Those people who do not have access to secure and satisfying work are less likely to have an adequate income; and unemployment and underemployment are generally associated with reduced life opportunities and poorer health and wellbeing. Although the relationship between unemployment and health and wellbeing is complex and varies for different population groups, there is consistent evidence from research that unemployment is associated with adverse health outcomes; and unemployment has a direct effect on physical and mental health over and above the effects of socioeconomic status, poverty, risk factors, or prior ill-health [1,2,3].

Unemployment and its accompanying health effects are not distributed evenly through the population. Unemployment rates in Australia are highest among people aged less than 25 years, and are generally higher in rural and remote areas than in urban areas.

From 20 March 2020, the Newstart Allowance was replaced by the JobSeeker Payment.


  1. Mathers CD, Schofield DJ. The health consequences of unemployment: the evidence. Med J Aust. 1998;168(4):178-82.
  2. Dollard MF, Winefield AH. Mental health: overemployment, underemployment, unemployment and healthy jobs. Aust e-J Adv Mental Hlth. 2002;1(3).
  3. World Health Organization (WHO). Promoting mental health: concepts, emerging evidence, practice. Geneva: WHO; 2005.


People receiving an ‘unemployment benefit' - which includes the JobSeeker Payment (befoere 20 March 2020, the Newstart Allowance) or Youth Allowance (other)1 paid by the Department of Human Services - are shown as a proportion of the eligible population (of persons aged 16 to 21 years for the Youth Allowance (other), 22 to 64 years for the JobSeeker payment).

For total unemployment, this is the sum of Youth Allowance (other) and JobSeeker Payment as a proportion of the population aged 15 to 64 years.

The data by length of period on these benefits remains unchanged at June 2017, as the Department of Social Services were unable to supply the data at the time of publication.

Data cells with counts of less than five were suppressed (confidentialised). Therefore, the figures can be undercounted by up to 4 people if one of the cells at the SA2 level comprising a PHA or LGA is confidentialised. Data in the ‘Unknown’ data row in the Excel data workbooks are calculated from the difference between the sum of the PHA or LGA data to the State/Territory totals and include the sum of these suppressed cells.

In addition, where two indicators are added together to produce total unemployment, the sum of JobSeeker Payment (before 20 March 2020, the Newstart Allowance) and Youth Allowance (other), if one has been suppressed, this could also result in an undercount.

1 Youth Allowance (other) is largely comprised of unemployed people aged 16 to 21 looking for full-time work or undertaking approved activities, such as part-time study or training. It excludes Youth Allowance customers who are full-time students or undertaking an apprenticeship/ traineeship.

Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintile and Remoteness Area

Numerator: People in receipt of the JobSeeker Payment (Newstart Allowance) or Youth Allowance (other) from the Department of Human Services

Denominator: People aged 16 to 64 years

Detail of analysis: Per cent

Source: Compiled by PHIDU based on data from the Department of Social Services, June 2020; and PHIDU estimated population, 30 June 2020.

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