The Australian Bureau of Statistics goes to great trouble to provide what it calls trend figures for the major statistical series that it produces that are designed to even out some of the fluctuations that are inevitable when making estimates based on a sample. That it is a sensible and helpful practice for those trying to work out what is happening to the economy was illustrated again today with the release of the figures for employment and unemployment in April.

Last month the Bureau’s figures for March showed that the number of people employed increased by 37,800 in March to 11.457 million. The increase in employment was driven by an increase in full-time employment, up 32,100 people to 8.106 million, and an increase in part-time employment, up 5,700 people to 3.351 million. The trend figures were not so buoyant with, according to them, employment increased by just 8600to 11,448,500. Yet the general reaction of the so-called “expert” market economists was that the unexpectedly strong seasonally adjusted figure showed that a labour market shortage was well and truly on the way.

Today the general reaction to a seasonally adjusted figure showing a drop in employment of 22,100 is to suggest that things are not going as well in the economy as thought. Yet the trend figures continue to show a steady employment growth, albeit a small one.

The trend upwards is nothing to get excited about but it is pointing in the direction of an economic recovery.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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