• Public policy;
  • Unemployment;
  • Labour market;
  • Social equity

Unemployment levels have been falling steadily in Australia for some time—yet, when ‘hidden’ unemployment is taken into account, the work force remains considerably under-utilised. As well, work opportunities are sharply polarised across households and spatially. These problems stem largely from structural imbalances and inefficiencies in the job market, which are impeding fuller workforce participation. The Government has a number of policy alternatives to choose from—all potentially effective in enhancing participation but with quite different distribution outcomes. The real debate is not about how to reduce core joblessness (the solutions are well known)—but who should pay.