The latest official unemployment figures show a national total of 4.2 per cent, which is reportedly the lowest level since 1974.
Reports on unemployment figures inevitably bring questions about just how accurate they are, and how much underemployment is ignored. There have certainly been comments left on this blog a number of times to that effect.
For anyone who wonders about such things, I recommend reading this short research note which the Parliament Library has issued which “examines the definition of unemployment and its limitations. It also considers how these limitations can be overcome by using other measures of labour underutilisation produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.” It lists some of the changes that have occured over the years in the Bureau of Statistics’ definition of unemployment. The alternative measurement methods it looks at includes measuring unused labour resources and number of potential hours of labour not used, rather than just number of people.
Whatever the limitations of a single unemployment figure may be, it is clearly trending in a positive direction. Which does lead me to note in passing that it has clearly disproved the old myths about ‘migrants taking our jobs.’ This continuing decline in unemployment has occurred at the same time as record levels of migration into Australia. Whilst there are still groups and areas where unemployment and underemployment is a significant problem, we also clearly have major labour market shortages in some regions and industries. If it wasn’t for the record migration intake, these labour shortages would have reached critical stage long ago.