Vol. 37 No. 1 2011

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    Australian Labour Market Flows over the Business Cycle
    (National Institute of Labour Studies, 2011) Chindamo, P.
    This paper analyses the behaviour of Australian labour market transition rates. Since the early 1980s, the job-finding rate has been significantly more volatile than the job-loss rate and it is strongly pro-cyclical. The economic downturns of the early 1980s and early 1990s were associated with up to a 10 percentage points decline in the average job-finding rate. In comparison, the recent economic downturn was associated with a less significant decline in the job-finding rate. During these periods, the job-loss rate has shown less significant volatility. The findings of this paper suggest that the job search activities of workers are potentially more relevant in explaining the volatility of labour market variables such as the unemployment rate, and whether emerging skill shortages can be addressed. Policies that assist job search and the skills development of workers are important, as is the intensity of workers' search activity.
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    The 'Rise and Rise' of New Professional Groups: Mental Health Professions under Medicare
    (National Institute of Labour Studies, 2011) Doessel, Darrel P; Williams, Ruth F G
    From November 2006, three paramedical professions that provide mental health services - eligible or approved psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists - came within the scope of Medicare. The purpose of this article is to place that historic decision in context, first by examining several key secular trends in psychiatry as a profession, and then by presenting some data on the professional groups newly subsidised under Medicare. The trends in psychiatry give the context of that decision and point to the structural forces that are likely to be associated with the provision of mental health services in Australia.
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    Did 'Work First' Work? The Role of Employment Assistance Programs in Reducing Long-term Unemployment in Australia (1990-2008)
    (National Institute of Labour Studies, 2011) Davidson, P.
    Over the last two decades Australia's progress in reducing its long-term reliance on unemployment payments was disappointing; this was despite an improving labour market, tighter work requirements and reformed employment assistance. After the introduction of the Job Network in 1998, the focus of employment assistance for long-term unemployed people shifted from a human capital approach towards a 'work first' approach. We review evidence from microeconomic evaluations of employment programs. Generally, job search assistance - central to work first - is relatively effective. Gaps in the research may be a reason for the apparent discrepancy between these findings and Australia's slow progress overall in reducing long-term reliance on unemployment payments. Short-term average measures mask the distribution of program outcomes and results over the longer term. As unemployment fell, a growing proportion of unemployment payment recipients were disadvantaged in the labour market, and the work first approach may be ineffective for this group. The paper concludes with a brief assessment of the Job Services Australia program.
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    It's a Lot of Hard Work': The Experiences of Student-workers in University Term-time Employment
    (National Institute of Labour Studies, 2011) Munro, L.
    In a recent article in this journal, Robbins (2010) pointed out the importance of understanding the 'hard labour' of university students who have part-time jobs during term time. He did this, however, without invoking the testimony of the student-workers themselves in their dual role as university students and part-time workers. He focused instead on data mainly from quantitative surveys, including his own, of student-workers at a regional university. While Robbins provides an informative and up-to-date account of what he rightly calls "a challenging time to be a university student", his article does not offer any real insight into the way these challenges are experienced by the young workers whose voices are absent in his paper. This article seeks, in part, to fill this gap by featuring the testimonies of a sample of student-workers at a regional campus in Australia. The stories reveal a range of strategies which students use to resolve the dilemmas posed by the work-study couplet.
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    Wage Inequality: A Comparative Perspective
    (National Institute of Labour Studies, 2011) Lemieux, T.
    Wage inequality has been increasing in most industrialised countries over the last three decades. There are, nonetheless, major differences across countries in terms of the timing and magnitude of the growth in inequality. A large number of explanations have been suggested for these observed changes, including technological progress and the computer revolution, labour market institutions and social norms, and changes in the relative supply of highly educated workers. This paper assesses the validity of these explanations in the light of large differences in inequality growth across countries, and the stunning growth in the concentration of income at the top end of the distribution.