Marcus L’Estrange continues his series on the ABS methods to make unemployed people disappear off the official figures:

There
are other questions asked by Australian Bureau of Stastics survey staff
to compile their monthly figures for the ABS survey “Labor Force
Australia” that effectively exclude the hidden and discouraged job
seekers. The official monthly unemployment ABS figures exclude all
those (1.2 million) who don’t meet the absurd “push polling” type
definitions as outlined yesterday and below:

  • If you are not able to start work within the four weeks (i.e. being
    sick or lacking childcare, for example) after the survey, you are not
    counted as being unemployed. (Some 809,000 people (rounded figure)
    September 2000).

  • If you have been stood down without pay because of bad weather
    or plant breakdown, are on leave without pay for less than four weeks,
    on strike or locked out, or on workers’ compensation and expecting to
    be returning to their work, you are not counted as being unemployed.

  • You must be ready to start work within a week of the survey. If not, you are not counted as unemployed.

Let’s
look at how the 2 million plus unemployed are made up: 2002/2004
figures. ‘Official unemployed’: 600,000. Then the following Australians
are excluded from the monthly figures (November 2004 ABS figures).

64,400: actively looking for work but not available to start work in the survey week.

119,500: discouraged workers (2002 figures)

173,000: who wanted to work but lacked childcare. (2002 figures)

94,000: short term (less than one month) health problems (2002 figures)

144,000: on short -term courses (2002 figures)

40,000: thought they had a job to go to (2002 figures)

62,000: other family reasons (2002 figures)

133,000:other reasons*. (2002 figures)

Total: 790,000. 140,000 vacancies

Economics commentator Terry McCrann observed in The Australian
in 1996: “…for want of a better term, the ‘jobless problem’ actually
directly hits a staggering 2.5 million Australians (official jobless –
800,000, hidden unemployment 1.2 million, 578,300 underemployed) –
leading on to claims that the official jobless numbers are some sort of
gigantic cover-up.”

Peter Fray

A lot can happen in 3 months.

3 months is a long time in 2020. Join us to make sense of it all.

Get you first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12. Cancel anytime.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

12 weeks for $12