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Time To Review Measurement Of Unemployment

ACT Employment Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman is calling on the Government Statistician to back up the efforts of his counterpart in Australia and seek a review of the way the officially recognised measure of unemployment is calculated.

“The Household Labour Force Survey results are becoming increasingly divorced from reality because the survey methodology has not kept up with changing trends. The latest HLFS survey would have us believe there were just 104,000 people unemployed in the March quarter. Yet in March, official Government figures show that nearly 143,000 people were on the dole. Clearly this figure makes a nonsense of the HLFS survey result.

“The survey does not measure people who have registered as unemployed. It is a survey with a small sample of just 1 percent of the population – with the results extrapolated out to produce a figure purporting to be the number of people unemployed around the country.

“People who have given up looking for a job are not counted as ‘unemployed’, while anybody who has worked even one hour in a single week is labelled ‘employed’. This is patently ridiculous, as the Australian chief statistician has recognised.

“The ‘official’ measure has become so disparate with reality that the Australian chief statistician now wants anybody who has worked less than 10 hours in a week recognised as unemployed. Adoption of this here would more than double our rate of unemployment as measured by the HLFS and provide a much truer picture. I believe it is high time our Government Statistician considered supporting this stance.

“Department of Work and Income figures for February show that the number of people who have physically gone into a DWI office and registered themselves as unemployed is more than double the HLFS figure at nearly 210,000. This is not a sample survey – this is 210,000 REAL people. More worryingly still, the number of people out of work for over a year now stands at 105,000. We are developing a whole underclass of people who are trapped in a cycle of welfare dependency.

“The HLFS survey was applied here at a time when there was virtually no such thing as inter-generational unemployment. It simply does not measure people who have long ago resigned themselves to not looking for work and languishing on the dole.

“Steve Maharey will crow about the latest HLFS results. But he should instead, as he did in constantly in opposition, be studying the worrying registered unemployed statistics and acknowledging that we have a real unemployment problem in this country. The long term unemployed aren’t going away, we are just hiding them,” Dr Newman said.


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