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Aust J Soc Issues ; 57(1): 70-87, 2022 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1107470


The COVID-19 pandemic is both a health and an economic crisis. Economically, lockdowns across Australia have devastated business and industry, creating immediate spikes in under- and unemployment. These impacts intersect with the precarious labour market of casualised and "gig" economy work, where young workers constitute an established and substantial group. While negatively impacting upon many young people's lives, in recent decades precarious employment has also been normalised for young people as they are encouraged to understand themselves as self-reliant and entrepreneurial in their working lives. Yet, these workers have been largely abandoned in the government's economic response to COVID-19. The economic impact and government response to the pandemic substantially disadvantage young people. This article analyses the impact of new government initiatives: the "JobKeeper" wage subsidy scheme, "JobSeeker" payments and early access to superannuation, "JobMaker" economic recovery plan and the redesign of university fees. These initiatives compound preexisting youth policy of low welfare levels, youth wages and high university fees to economically burden young people. Contrasting the repeated expression of anything pandemic related as "unprecedented", we argue that the economic abandonment of young people in the immediate COVID-19 crisis continues a decades-long precedent in Australia of economically disadvantaging young people.