Workforce leavers helping the figures. The official October figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics this morning show a drop in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate but the trend line that irons out some of the inevitable monthly ups and downs is still pointing upwards.

And the ABS features some trend figures that show that people withdrawing from the workforce make things look better than they actually are. The trend estimate of the employment to population ratio for persons is down from its high point of 62.8% in May 2008 (for males the high was in March that year at 67.2% and for females a high of 56% in June 2008) to a current level of 61.6% (67.8% for men and 55.6% for women).

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The trend estimate of the participation rate for persons rose from 63.5% in October 2002 to 63.8% in February 2003. The trend then fell to 63.3% in March 2004 before generally rising to 65.9% in December 2010. The trend has since generally fallen to 65.1% in October 2012 — 71.7% for men and 58/.8% for women.

All presidented out. If you are like me you are probably ready to move on from reading about the US presidential election but I hope you will forgive one comment about the triumph of the nerds who came under such attack from conservatives for correctly interpreting the myriad opinion polls as pointing to a very likely Barack Obama victory. From xkcd:

And if you would really like some light relief listen, here’s Alan Jones giving reasons for the coming Mitt Romney victory in this chat with Tom Switzer of Sydney University.

Giving sharks a bad name. It’s all the media’s fault and the Australian version is worse than the rest. Michigan State University conservationists reckon that media concentration on stories about sharks attacking humans has given the creatures a bad name that is affecting their very survival.

In an article entitled Australian and U.S. News Media Portrayal of Sharks and Their Conservation (behind a paywall but with an abstract available) the academics found that Australian and U.S. news articles were more likely to focus on negative reports featuring sharks and shark attacks rather than conservation efforts.

Allowing such articles to dominate the overall news coverage diverts attention from key issues, such as shark populations are declining worldwide and many species are facing extinction, said Meredith Gore, MSU assistant professor of fisheries and wildlife and the School of Criminal Justice. “The most important aspect of this research is that risks from — rather than to — sharks continue to dominate news coverage in large international media markets,” said Gore. “To the extent that media reflect social opinion, this is problematic for shark conservation.”

According to the study, more than 52% of global coverage focused on shark attacks on people, and sharks were portrayed negatively in nearly 60% of the coverage. That’s compared to a mere 10% featuring shark conservation issues and just 7% focusing on shark biology or ecology.

News and views noted along the way:

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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