Go with the trend but that’s still not good. Experience tells me to go with the trend figures rather than the alternative original or seasonally adjusted versions of the employment figures.

There’s naturally a fair bit of volatility build into sampling in any one month but even the trend figures which level things out that were released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this morning make far from happy reading.

The participation rate is down and the unemployment rate is still edging upwards. Not a good sign.

And being a sensitive fellow who notes the comments made by Crikey readers let me draw attention to this extract from the ABS’s press release:

Contrary to recent media reports, the ABS does measure underemployment, and has done so every quarter since February 1978. The most recent estimate of the seasonally adjusted underemployment rate was 7.3 per cent in last month’s November 2011 issue.

Combined with November’s unemployment rate of 5.3 per cent, the latest estimate of total seasonally adjusted labour force underutilisation was 12.6 per cent.

For more information on underemployment and underutilisation, please refer to the article ‘Understanding Labour Force‘ which is published every month in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0).

You can see the differences for yourself here:

And one more version that illustrates just how slow things are on the employment front

I know the population is slowly aging but there’s a long way to go to get back to the proportion of Australians in jobs that we had back in 2007.

An Oscar win for the arty crafties? The producers of The Artist can clearly talk a good film. Winning a Golden Globe for this black and white homage to the days of silent films gone by was proof of that. But at the box office it is a different story. This headline from London’s Daily Telegraph pretty accurately tells the story.

Ordinary cinema goers are largely avoiding it and of those that do venture in a significant number, as the Telegraph story relates, are walking out and asking for their money back.

At the box office, according to the industry website Mojo, attendances last week ranked The Artist in 17th place.

Yet at your local bookie and on the Crikey Election Oscars Election Indicator (you will find it on The Stump blog here) The Artist is an odds on favourite. But for how long? Surely when the time comes to actually lodge a vote, members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will not put a one next to the name of a film that is close to being a financial dud.

I’ll be looking for something else to back.

How the rich get richer. Further to yesterday’s little snippet “More tax for those richer than me” about America’s millionaires and the tax they pay (and don’t pay), here’s a chart from the Center for American Progress:

I doubt that things are much different in Australia where a past Labor government not only cut the top tax rate but gave the wealthy the added benefit of dividend imputation to reduce their taxes even further. And to think that Labor once was  a socialist party!

Just another copy-cat. It might have been deemed an acceptable spoonerism by Australian officialdom but nuckin futs as a brand name for peanuts is really just another case of plagiarism. In the United States it has been used on a chilli sauce for years.

Some warmth to come? December was cooler than normal across much of Australia for both daytime and overnight temperatures but the Bureau of Meteorology in its seasonal outlook released this week gives some hope that warmer days are more likely, at least over southeastern Australia, in the months ahead.

When it comes to rainfall the BOM suggests the national outlook for February to April 2012 shows the following:

  • the tropical north of Australia more likely to have wetter season
  • western WA more likely to have wetter season
  • parts of southeast SA and western NSW more likely to have drier season