Politics Analysis

A new Employment Minister, but the deceptions continue

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Employment Minister Stuart Robert has attempted to create a false impression of the Government's economic success (image via YouTube)

Stuart Robert has been the Minister for Employment for less than four months but already has the art of fudging figures and faking facts finely honed, writes Alan Austin.

LAST THURSDAY'S media release on the June jobs data from Minister for Employment Stuart Robert contained several highly dubious claims. The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) monthly figures did contain some positive signs. Overall, however, they confirmed the Morrison Government’s policies are still failing badly.

Robert claimed:

'Labour force figures ... show that seasonally adjusted employment rose by 29,100 in June 2021, at the upper end of market expectations ...'

It has been an expectation that Australia’s job numbers ought to rank in the world’s top thirty countries and the top eight OECD nations. These have been the rankings for most of the last 35 years since Paul Keating restructured Australia’s economy.

Currently, Australia ranks a dismal 62nd in the world and 13th in the OECD. This is a long way short of expectations.

Global rankings on the economy

A smaller set of 16 countries comparable to Australia in population, development and economic structure are shown in the two charts below.

Jobless 16 Dec 2010 Final.jpg

Australia’s jobless rate ranked second in 2010 when Labor, the Greens and independents ran the country (referred to in the blue chart). It now ranks tenth under the Coalition, as the green chart attests.

If Australia still ranked second in this group, another 264,000 families would have a breadwinner.

Jobless 16 July 2021 Final.jpg

Robert also claimed:

'Labour force figures ... stand at a record high of 13,154,200.'

The raw number of people employed goes up in every country every month as matter of course, as a result of rising populations — unless unusual factors intervene.

We could also observe that since Scott Morrison has been PM, unemployed persons and underemployed persons numbers have hit new record highs several times. These are functions primarily of population growth.

The Minister thinks Australians are fools:

'Employment has now increased by 285,100 in 2021, the largest increase in the first six months of a calendar year on record ...'

There are two deceptions found in that remark. First, Robert wants us to forget what happened in the first six months of last year.

There was a decrease over that period of a staggering 589,100.

Naturally, there will be a recovery in the months following that horrific collapse. The increase in the first six months this year is merely clawing back jobs this Government lost. Again, that is no cause for applause.

The second deception is that Robert is quoting raw numbers again. Jobs must always be looked at relative to population. The increase of 285,100 jobs in the first six months of 2021 was only 1.36% of the adult population, which is not the record. Bob Hawke and Keating did much better than that in the first six months of 1986 with a 1.50% increase. Hawke did it again in 1989 with a lift of 1.46%.

The big difference is, of course, that neither of those periods of impressive job creation followed a disastrous collapse.

Robert is trying to scam us:

'Encouragingly, the proportion of the Australian civilian population [aged 15 years and over] who were employed reached a record high of 63% in June 2021.'

This is absolutely not encouraging, given Australia’s current border closures. With far fewer backpackers and guest workers on temporary visas taking jobs, we would expect the employed proportion of what’s left of the workforce to be vastly higher than ever before.

But it isn’t. Eight times during the Labor and Greens years, the proportion reached between 62.7% and 62.9%. That was when foreign workers continually flooded in through wide-open borders. To have just hit 63% in current conditions is pathetically weak.

Further, Robert said:

'The participation rate remained steady in June, at 66.2% and is 0.3 percentage points above the rate recorded in March 2020.'

As shown previously, the optimum job participation rate in Australia is between 64.9 and 65.3. If it is higher than this, then too many students and too many seniors in their seventies and eighties have been forced by poverty back to work.

The latest figures show school enrolments relative to population are at an 11-year low. The proportion of seniors returned to work – or to the dole queues – has risen from 11.7% in May 2015 to 14.8% in May this year.

Robert also asserted: 

'The Government has put in place a prudent macroeconomic policy framework to ensure that Australia continues to rebound strongly from the COVID-19 induced recession ...'

It hasn’t. Under the current Government, Australia has fallen appallingly in global ranking on all key outcomes, except corporate profits. The failures include economic growth, exports growth, infrastructure investment, wage rises, productivity and jobs.

Among OECD members, Australia is still a distant last in vaccination rates.

Hours worked per adult per month

Arguably the best indicator of the success of government policies is hours worked per adult per month. This is now well below optimum.

The June number was a miserable 85.2 hours, down from above 87.5 when Labor was steering the economy through the last global recession in 2009.

Hours worked in June were lower than at any month in 2019, before the pandemic hit. Claims that employment has fully recovered are highly deceptive.

We should not accept such trickery as normal.

Alan Austin’s defamation matter is nearly over. You can read the latest update here and contribute to the crowd-funding HEREAlan Austin is an Independent Australia columnist and freelance journalist. You can follow him on Twitter @alanaustin001.

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