What is the Real Rate of Unemployment in Australia?
What would you consider to be number of hours worked in a normal week by a person working in Australia excluding overtime, building up Flex Time or working back unpaid to get your work done. Do you agree that the normal number of hours worked are 38 hours per week.
So how many hours per week would you expect a person to have worked to satisfy the definition of Employed Persons according the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)? 1 hour per week, 10 hours per week, 15 hours per week, 20 hours per week, 25 hours per week, 30 hours per week, 35 hours per week or 38 hours per week?
What would be your response were I to tell you one hour per week. You don't believe me. Well here are the hard cold facts extracted from the ABS itself.
6203.0 - Labour Force, Australia, Feb 2001
Employed persons comprise all those civilians aged 15 years and over who worked for one hour or more (my emphasis) in the reference week or who had a job from which they were absent. Work is taken to mean work for one hour or more during the reference week, undertaken for pay, profit, commission or payment in kind, in a job, business or farm, or without pay in a family business or farm.
For your reference here is the respective link to the ABS web site:
I acknowledge and understand the International Labour Organisation is the overarching body that determines international labour standards however it could be argued that the definitions are too narrow. The crux of my argument is that successive Governments and the respective Industry Associations e.g. the Australian Industry Group hide behind this data whereas full disclosure of other indicators should be made Public Domain material thereby providing more balance to the data.
Allow me to digress for a moment. We hear how businesses are currently doing it tough and are employing people on a part time or casual basis thereby avoiding paying sickness and annual leave benefits to those persons.
But what of those people of whom I was one, that worked additional unpaid hours per week. Very little is said about the millions of dollars they contribute to the bottom line (profit) of business throughout Australia.
As I mentioned tongue in cheek in the Medical Ghostwriting article 'All is not what it appears to be whether it be smoke and mirrors or Medical Ghostwriting'. Similarly one could be forgiven for adopting the same position on the unemployment or underemployment rate. Statistics can an are manipulated to reflect what Governments or businesses want us to believe.
For the definition of underemployed and data here is the link to the ABS web site:
Should the respective Governements be more transparent and publish more comprehensive data even though it may not be palatable to all concerned parties.
Please refer to:
TABLE 1. UNEMPLOYMENT AND SUPPLEMENTARY MEASURES, SEPTEMBER 1999(a)
of the link to the ABS web site mentioned above.
Additionally should you be interested here is more information on Underemployed from the ABS web site: