Well we suspected something of the sort when the unemployment statistics would seem to move in a manner inconsistent with other economic news, but the ABS has admitted that it often gets employment figures wrong, though this seems as much a pitch for more money for the ABS, as a mea culpa.
You might think that unemployment is a figure that a government department would have exact numbers for – after all, they register unemployment claims. But no, it seems the ABS has to phone around 3000 people each month and extrapolate the results from that, making it a less reliable indicator. As reported in SMH:
“Officially, employment grew not at all last year after surging by 363,500 in 2010. Yesterday, at an invitation-only seminar, assistant statistician Paul Mahoney said employment probably climbed 30,000 to 35,000 more than officially acknowledged in the first nine months of last year and climbed 60,000 to 70,000 less than acknowledged in 2010.
This means official figures overstated the weakness in the labour market that led the Reserve Bank to cut rates at the end of last year and overstated the strength that led it to push up rates at the end of 2010.”