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Damned lies and statistics!

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by Mark Smith

about 2 years ago

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Last week, the monthly unemployment figures were released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Employment statistics are not something ‘Joe Public’ is generally interested in,  but for a twenty year recruitment veteran, with a little bit of a nerd streak, such as me, they make very interesting reading!

 

Last week’s employment statistics were quite interesting and have created a bit of a stir amongst economists and analysts. Overall, Australia’s unemployment rate dropped by point 1% to 5.6% from 5.7%, however we actually lost approximately 10,000 jobs. So how does that work? 

This is the problem of only looking at the headline unemployment rate. Our unemployment rate dropped because people simply stopped looking for work. This could be as a result of people giving up their search altogether,  but given the demographic shift, I would suggest this is as a result of many of the baby boomers in Australia, retiring. The number of people looking for work is called the participation rate, which dropped 0.2%, last month. 

The other contributing factor,  is the continuing casualisation of the workforce and the ongoing rise of part time employment. In October 2016, there were 43,000 additional people in part time work. The question that many of us are trying to answer, is whether part time employment is representative of under employment or whether it is a trend, resulting from the choices people make in the workforce. 

Most economists think its under employment. Here at people2people, in the September quarter, we saw a strengthening in the contract and temporary recruitment market, with only a slight softening in the permanent recruitment market. They make for interesting times and if you are interested, please click on the link below, to look at the statistics from the ABS for yourself.  

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