Tuesday, 28 June 2016

I'm so over the Nationals fudging unemployment statistics during this federal election campaign

This was what voters were presented with when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull came into the Northern Rivers to try and shore up Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan.

Echo NetDaily, 17 June 2016:

The prime minister will be campaigning in the marginal Nationals-held seat of Page on Friday, announcing a jobs and investment package.
Kevin Hogan holds Page with a 3.1 per cent margin over former Labor MP Janelle Saffin.
The coalition is desperate to hold Page, which is developing a reputation for being bellwether seat.
The region has one of the worst unemployment records in the state, with youth unemployment nearing 20 per cent in some areas.
The coalition hopes the $25 million investment will give businesses incentives to invest and help boost employment in the region, not to mention boosting their chances of re-election.
It includes providing business innovation grants to help adopt new technology, upgrading local infrastructure and delivering targeted skills and training programs for regional shortages.

Kevin Hogan quoted in the Echo NetDaily on the same day:

Page MP Kevin Hogan welcomed the announcement.
‘The jobless rate in the Clarence Coffs area has fallen to 4.2% – well below the NSW and national average (4.95% and 5.5% respectively),’ Mr Hogan said.
‘Since July almost 2500 people in Page have found on-going work through the Coalition’s Jobactive programme. But more still needs to be done.
‘I set up a local Job Strategy Group over six months ago to bring companies looking to expand to the North Coast. This package will certainly be an incentive for those businesses that have been thinking about making the move but aren’t ready to commit,” he said.

So is Hogan right about unemployment levels on the NSW Far North Coast and the Page electorate in particular?

Here are the facts which he appears to want to fudge by quoting the much broader statistical region – Clarence-Coffs – which extends as far south as the Bellingen area.

The March Quarter unemployment rate for all persons (released 10 June 2016) in relevant local government areas:

Tweed LGA – 7.6%
Richmond Valley LGA – 10.7%
Ballina LGA – 6.1%
Byron LGA – 9.3%
Kyogle LGA – 10.6%
Lismore LGA – 9.4%
Clarence Valley LGA - 6.5%
Coffs Harbour LGA – 5.3%

Ballina – 7,430 people
Ballina Region - 7,999 people
Casino - 5,044 people
Casino Region - 3,225 people
Evans Head – 2,180 people
Kyogle – 3,419 people
Lismore – 7,769 people
Lismore region – 8,166 people
Grafton – 8,756 people
Grafton Region – 7,406 people
Maclean-Yamba-Iluka – 6,880
Coffs Harbour North –  8,711 people

In April 2016 the Youth Unemployment Rate (15-24 years of age) for both the Clarence-Coffs and Tweed regions was 11.9%.
In May 2016 the Youth Unemployment Rate (15-24 years of age) for New South Wales was  11.4%.

And if readers want to know all Coalition's Job Active "ongoing-work" - I refer them to an excerpt from this previous post:

For that amount of money the Abbott-Turnbull Government expects the Jobactive scheme to have placed 380,000 jobseekers in often wage-subsidised employment in 2015-16, at a cost of est.$2,500 per placement covering Employment Fund expenditure, service fees and outcome payments.

Unfortunately 68% of these placements are likely to last only 4 weeks before the person is unemployed once more. I suspect the percentage of temporary jobs is so high because this allows service providers to bill the government again and again for ‘helping’ those same job seekers find other temporary jobs once the initial placement dissolves into thin air and, via the $1.2 billion national wage subsidy pool potentially allows employers to 'churn' new employees on short term contacts so that employers receive financial benefits from the pool but employees are unemployed at contract's end.

None of the departmental employment sustainability measures encompass positions lasting longer than six months, so it is unclear as to whether there is a genuine expectation that job service providers will assist in finding permanent employment for anyone.

In July 2015 when Jobactive Australia commenced, the real national unemployment rate was probably running at est. 8.7% and by March 2016 it had climbed to est.11% according Roy Morgan Research vs ABS Employment Estimates (1992-2016).
In November 2013 the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) seasonally adjusted combined unemployment and underemployment rate (underutilisation) was 13.5% and by February 2016 this combined rate was 14.2%.

In September 2013 the average number of weeks an unemployed person spent looking for a job was 39, with an est.134,400 people looking for 52 weeks and over.
Under the Abbott-Turnbull Government by March 2016 the average number of weeks had risen to 46.2, with an est. 181,700 people looking for 52 weeks and over. [Australian Bureau of Statistics, Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery, Mar 2016

In June 2014 an est. 123,800 15 to 24 year-olds were looking for full time or part-time work. By March 2016 the number of young people in this category had risen to 133,000. [ibid]

The Brotherhood of St. Laurence reported on 14 March 2016 that some rural and regional areas were grappling with youth unemployment rates above 20 per cent.

Richmond-Tweed (including Tweed Heads, Byron Bay, Lismore, Mullumbimby) in the NSW Northern Rivers region had a youth unemployment rate of 14.5% in January 2015 and by January 2016 this rate had risen to 17.4% [Brotherhood of St Laurence, Australia’s Youth Unemployment Hotspots: Snapshot March 2016, p. 3]

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