Men queue outside a Depression-era soup kitchen in Chicago.
Men queue outside a Depression-era soup kitchen in Chicago. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

In 1932, at the peak of the Great Depression, Australia’s unemployment rate hit 20%. Today, that’s about the unemployment rate in Fairfield, where around one in five people who want a job can’t find one.

When we hear about unemployment, the picture too often focuses on the national rate, currently 5.2%. This hasn’t changed much over recent years, so it’s easy to miss the fact that other countries are doing much better. When she visited Australia, Jacinda Ardern was polite enough not to mention that New Zealand’s country’s unemployment rate is around 4%. That’s also the rate in Britain and the United States. Countries that underperformed Australia during the Global Financial Crisis are now outperforming us -- and by a significant margin.