Henry Thornton’s economic analysis in Crikey largely fails as it is
based on a false and misleading unemployment figure of 5%.
There are many things wrong with the monthly or headline “Labour Force”
(Australia) figure on which Henry Thornton bases his analysis.

Some examples are that advanced countries such as Germany and
Singapore only count a person as employed if they worked 15 hours or
more. In Australia you are counted as being employed if you work just
one hour or more, paid and unpaid. About 400,000 Australians work
between one and 14 hours. They are counted as being employed in
Australia but in many countries they are counted as unemployed.

Henry Thornton does not tell the readers of the second set of
unemployment figures, “Persons not in the Labour Force”, also
produced by the Commonwealth Statistician and staff because they
don’t believe the monthly definition/figure forced upon them by the
political process – is based on an actuarial or real survey that shows
a (real) 2 million or 20% level of unemployment, chasing about
155,00 vacancies, advertised and not advertised.

National definitions of unemployment do differ from the recommended ILO
international standard definition. The national definitions used vary
from one country to another as regards inter alia age limits, reference
periods, criteria for seeking work/not seeking work, treatment of
persons temporarily laid off and of persons seeking work for the first
time. This, plus the tricks all governments get up to in cooking their
monthly unemployment figures, makes comparisons between countries well
nigh impossible and a fruitless exercise.

Secondly, 1.75 million unemployed Australians are on one of the five or
six types of dole or unemployment benefits. This alone makes a mockery
of the
unemployment figure. Fudged unemployment figures are not the basis for
economic analysis and
a host of other matters such as immigration targets, aid to
disadvantaged areas support for ABAs and above all, general economic

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey