Our incomparable unemployment figures

16 Nov

Quite literally incomparable, as I argued a month ago: Interrogating the unemployment figures.

I return to this chicanery again after beginning Shelley Gare’s The Triumph of the Airheads (2006), reviewed there in Quadrant, John Howard’s favourite magazine. I agree with 60-70% of what Gare presents; there are issues where I think she has been a bit airheaded herself, but others — the majority — where she is spot on. One such issue is the unemployment statistics.

As for the unemployment figure…, it’s worth noting that, statistically speaking, you are counted as employed if you have worked for an hour or more in the week for pay, profit, commission or pay in kind. Or you have worked for an hour or more, even without pay, on a family farm or in a family business. [Officially, an unemployed person is someone over fifteen years of age, who has not worked at all in the week counted, has actively looked for work in the previous four weeks and is available to start work.]

Thus are great Potemkin villages of employment figures constructed for government purposes. The true wonder is that anyone in Australia is “unemployed” at all! Naturally, comparisons with other countries or earlier times are totally bogus.

It is of course a worry that the Rudd team do not point this out…

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Posted by on November 16, 2007 in Australia and Australian, industrial relations, John Howard, Political



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