Notes on the data: Income support

People receiving an unemployment benefit, June 2021


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.

The data shown here are the sum of the JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance (other).


  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 or Youth Allowance (other)1 paid by Centrelink - 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.

Population Health Area (PHA) data were derived from already suppressed Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2) data. Therefore, if a PHA includes an SA2 with suppressed data, there could be an undercount of up to 4 people in the PHA.

State and territory totals were also provided in the source data. Data in the ‘Unknown’ data row in the Excel data workbooks are calculated from the difference between the sum of the PHA data and the State/Territory totals and include the sum of these suppressed SA2 cells.

Data cells with counts of less than five were suppressed (confidentialised).

In addition, where two indicators are added together to produce total unemployment, the sum of JobSeeker Payment 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 of socioeconomic disadvantage of area and Remoteness Area


Numerator: People in receipt of the JobSeeker Payment or Youth Allowance (other) from Centrelink


Denominator: People aged 16 to 64 years


Detail of analysis: Per cent


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on data from Department of Social Services Payment Demographic Data, June 2021, available from, accessed 16 August 2021, and Australian Bureau of Statistics Estimated Resident Population, 30 June 2020.


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