Thursday, 18 October 2007

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

I’ve found some stats I was chasing about Workchoices – it’s difficult at the moment as I travelling and working and have limited time and web access.

The point I am making is not to deny that unemployment is trending down, and engagement in the labour force is trending up, but to point out that these simple statistics have to be used in a comparative way to establish that Workchoices has had an effect.

If you look at the images, available on the Principle Labour Force Series Trend Estimates page of the ABS website you will see –

The first graph shows the unemployment rate. You will notice that it’s pretty uniform with the exception of 1999 – 2001. As I understand it, Workchoices took effect in May 2006. If its introduction has had a major effect, you would expect to see a major downward blip in the graph starting at about May 2006, and continuing until the present. It’s not evident. The average trend continues.
The upward blip in 2001 is interesting. Who was in power then?
The second graph is employment (engagement) for the same period. Again, you would expect to see a blip if Workchoices had helped. Again, it’s not there. The trend is remarkably consistent.

The best that Joe Hockey can say is that Workchoices has maintained the positive Labour Force trends. It’s not had a major effect.

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