Australia: Jobs and unemployment in Tasmania

Posted: March 3, 2014 in General - Employment, General - Unemployment
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Via the ABC’s Fact Check program. There’s an election going on in Tasmania and both sides are discussing the employment and unemployment numbers (often incorrectly). Jobs and unemployment: What’s the real story in Tasmania? Excerpt:

Claim 1: 3,300 new jobs created in last six months

ABS data for Tasmania shows that in July 2013 there were 231,300 people employed in Tasmania. In January 2014, the number was 231,000, meaning there were 300 fewer people employed. Fact Check asked Ms Giddings’s office for the basis of her claim that 3,300 new jobs had been created. A spokesman responded with the following explanation: “The Premier is referring to 3,300 full-time jobs.

“ABS trend series data, which the ABS recommends for small jurisdictions like Tasmania, shows 149,347 employed full-time in Tasmania for Jan 2014.  In July 2013 it was 146,089 employed. “Therefore in the six subsequent months there has been an increase of 3,258 full-time employed in Tasmania.” Fact Check found these figures to be accurate for full-time employment in Tasmania. But on more than one occasion, Ms Giddings has not specified that her 3,300 figure relates only to full-time jobs.

Business commentator Bernard Salt says the fact that 3,300 full-time jobs have been added in Tasmania is only part of the story. Mr Salt, a partner with accounting firm KPMG, says to not tell the other part of the story is painting an incomplete picture. “The issue is that there were 3,600 part-time jobs lost over the same time period – from 85,300 in July 2013 to 81,700 in January 2014,” he said. “Net change in the job market is a function of both full-time and part-time jobs. If both data sets are added together then the net difference in the number of jobs between July 2013 and January 2014 is a net loss of 300 jobs. “Employment is made up of part-time and full-time jobs and both sides need to be detailed.”

Professor Bill Mitchell from Newcastle University’s Centre of Full Employment and Equity says the Premier is being “misleading”. “The Premier’s claim is misleading because a reasonable person would assume she is talking about total jobs,” he said. “And it’s obvious why she emphasises full-time jobs once you dig into the data because total employment has actually slightly decreased.”

In the second Fact Check the Tasmanian Liberals were found to be wrong when they claimed that 10,000 jobs had been lost during the Labor-Greens administration (but I’ll let you click through for the rest of the story).

Unfortunately, outside of a very few who can understand the ABS data the sound bites spoken by politicians often are the only jobs and unemployment information that people hear and reflect on.

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