Every now and then I rail (fruitlessly) against the ABS methodology which constructs the Australian unemployment rate. Yesterday it was pegged at 6.9 per cent.
Hold your belly and laugh.
Last year, around this time, it was 5.3 per cent. I’ve written about these curious and extraordinarily low figures heaps.
This story from the ABC is pretty good. Nice to see a couple of reporters on the ball.
It’s not just that the dole lines have tripled in length, it’s the fact that jobs have dried up – seriously dried up.
Let’s look at this from the view point of validity. First of all, we need to factor in about a million people who have given up looking for work. That means, according to the ABS, they’re not officially part of the workforce and therefore NOT unemployed… I know … I know.
Then consider that people on JobSeeker are not counted. There’s about a million people mouldering there.
The whole of Australia’s airline industry and tourism industry has crashed. That includes everyone from pilots, baggage handers to truck drivers. It also includes the thousands of people who worked in shops in airports and various supply chains.
Now include the fact that international tourism has died. It’s gone for all money.
About 200,000 jobs alone in retail and accommodation, were directly and indirectly tied to international tourism.
A key part – but I’m not counting them as tourists – is international students. There numbers have fallen by 70 per cent – and those that are stuck in Australian, are doing it very, very tough.
About 30,000 university jobs were tied to teaching and looking after those students.
There’s a comprehensive knock-on with retail, just from the lack of international students. But if we include what is happening in Melbourne in the accommodation and retail sectors, plus the fact that people are saving and not spending, it’s a fact that around retail jobs have gone.
They’re not working part time or casually. They’re GONE.
I know the ABS methodology is old and creaky. It was built for another era but something very weird or shonky is going on when journalists unquestioningly parrot the new unemployment figure as 6.9 per cent.
I’m counting around a rise of 3 million people unemployed.
But the real unemployment figure is closer to 14 or 15 per cent. In SA, there’s not much change out of 17-18 per cent.