Doubts Around Employment Data
14 December 2015 at 9:57 am
Employment data provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics is unreliable and “not worth the paper they’re written on”, according to the former director of the organisation.
Bill McLennan, a former chief of the ABS, told The Australian Financial Review that changes early last year to the way the data was gathered suggested the Bureau has abandoned strict practices established over half a century ago.
"The results of the last six months aren't worth the paper they're written on, so why are we wasting millions of taxpayers' money on the survey?" McLennan said.
The comments throw into question ABS figures showing that Australia had witnessed a surge in employment.
The most recent data released by the ABS showed that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for November 2015 was 5.8 per cent.
“The trend shows that around 293,000 more people were employed in November 2015 than in November 2014; an increase of 2.5 per cent,” Bruce Hockman, General Manager of ABS’ Macroeconomic Statistics Division, said.
The ABS said the increase in employment had contributed to the trend employment to population ratio rising over the year from 60.6 per cent to 61.3 per cent, while the unemployment rate had remained relatively stable over the year, decreasing from 6.2 per cent to 6.0 per cent.
It said, over the past month, trend employment increased by 25,300 persons to 11,855,800 people, which translated into a monthly growth rate of 0.21 per cent.
“This growth rate was above the monthly average over the past 20 years (0.15 per cent), and continues the trend in relatively strong employment growth that has been seen since December 2014,” the ABS said.
ABS head David Kalisch told The Australian Financial Review that there was “nothing at this stage that causes us alarm or points to a major issue that needs to be addressed”.
Last week the ABS released new experimental information on employee earnings and jobs, including data on multiple job holders.
The data showed that there were 10.3 million employees in 2011-12, the median earnings of these employees were $45,869 and the mean earnings were $55,678.