Marcus L’Estrange writes: Re. “Don’t celebrate, ScoMo: job ad stats mask ugly truth about the labour market“. 
Good heavens! “‘The Kouk” has discovered a million-plus underemployed but inexplicably has left out around another 1 million unemployed. More than a fifth of the 6.9 million Australians classified as being “not in the labour force” are estimated to want work but are not picked up by the strict, internationally determined definition of unemployment used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Including these people would lift April’s jobless rate above 15%. And including the record 9.2% of employed Australians who have jobs but want to work more hours sends the real rate well above 20%.

The definition of unemployment certainly doesn’t satisfy the “pub test”. It actually includes only a minority of people without work who want it. Indeed, anyone working more than one hour a week is considered employed even if they are working for free or in kind. By contrast, to be unemployed you need to have applied for a job in the past four weeks and be ready to start work in the week the survey was conducted — that is, now.

The sum of these two, respectively, generously and tightly ­defined categories determine the official “labour force”, which was 12.83 million people in April.

I can hear you asking: doesn’t Australia have a population of 24.5 million? What on earth is everyone else doing? We either have a lot of idle rich or something is wrong with the figures.

Amanda Vanstone, when she was the employment minister, noted that: The National institute of Labour Studies commissioned by her department found that “the level of disguised (un) employment had risen to historic highs, pushing the true jobless rate to between 15% – 22%”. Why hide the truth?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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