Are Hockey’s job numbers correct? > Check the facts

The claim

Mr Hockey said;

Over the last couple of months we have had some very pleasing economic information. Importantly, since the beginning of this year nearly 163,000 new jobs have been created, an average of 23,000 new jobs per month—23,000 new jobs per month. When Labor left office they were averaging 3,600 jobs per month. Last month Australia created 38,500 new jobs—more than 10 times the number of jobs created in one month than what Labor achieved on average every month in their last year in government.

The facts

The employment statistics that the Treasurer was referring to are found in the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) publication 6202.0 – Labour Force, Australia, Jul 2015.

Mr Hockey has made a number of claims that we will break down into;

  1. Since the beginning of the year nearly 163,000 new jobs have been created at an average of 23,000 new jobs per month
  2. When Labor left office they were averaging 3,600 jobs per month for the last 12 months of office
  3. Last month Australia created 38,500 new jobs which is more than 10 times the number of jobs created when compared to the avenge number of jobs created in the last 12 months of Labor’s time in office

Claim 1

The ABS shows that since the beginning of the year (January 2015 to July 2015), 162,900 jobs have been created which is an average of 23,300 jobs per month. So the Treasurer is correct.

Claim 2

The ABS shows that in Labor’s last year of office (September 2012 to August 2013) employment grew by 106,500 which is an average of 8,900 jobs per month. So the Treasurer’s claim that the average was 3,600 is wrong.

Claim 3

In the latest month (July 2015) 38,500 jobs were created. This represents about 4.3 times more jobs that the average number of jobs created each month in Labor’s last year in office. The Treasurer is correct about the most recent months data on jobs created but he is wrong about it being 10 times that under Labor in their last year in office.

It is important to think about the usefulness of comparing one month’s jobs data with the average amount of jobs created over a year. Month to month data changes quite dramatically. For example while the most recent month recorded an increase in jobs of 38,500, just three months earlier in April 2015 the ABS recorded a fall in jobs of 8,500.

When monthly numbers jump around it is more sensible to look at averages over a longer time period.  In the 1 year and 11 months the Coalition has been in office employment has increased by an average of 15,400 jobs per month. In the 5 years and 9 months Labor was in office employment increased by an average of 13,100 jobs per month. It should be noted that Labor’s time in office coincided with a global recession.

This shows us that employment growth is broadly similar. But employment growth is only one part of the story. Unemployment is also very important. If we look at unemployment over the period the Coalition has been in government, it has increased by an average of 4,400 per month. Under Labor it has increased by an average of 3,000 per month. Again Labor achieved this during a world recession.

The findings

Cherry picking one month and comparing it to a yearly average is not an informative way to look at the labour market in Australia. This comparison is made worse by the fact that Mr Hockey got his figures wrong and his main ‘10 times better than Labor’ figure is incorrect.

Over the longer term, employment growth has been marginally higher under the Coalition than in Labor’s last term of government, but so has growth in unemployment.

These kinds of glib comparisons do little to inform the public on the state of the Labor market.

General Enquiries

Tanya Martin Executive Assistant

02 6130 0530

mail@australiainstitute.org.au

Media Enquiries

Jake Wishart Senior Media Adviser

0413 208 134

jake@australiainstitute.org.au

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