In response to Sarah O'Carroll's article on 16 January 2012 'Official figures masking massive job woes' that suggests the ABS official unemployment figures do not reflect the full story of how the economy performs, it is important to note that the ABS publishes more than just the unemployment rate to inform about the performance of the labour market.
The ABS publishes a range of labour market data from the monthly Labour Force Survey. In particular, the ABS does measure underemployment, and has done so every quarter since February 1978. The most recent estimate of the seasonally adjusted underemployment rate was 7.3 per cent in last month's November 2011 issue. Combined with November's unemployment rate of 5.3 per cent, the latest estimate of total seasonally adjusted labour force underutilisation was 12.6 per cent. More information on underemployment and underutilisation, can be found in the article 'Understanding Labour Force' which is published every month in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0).
Differences in methodology, sample size and definitions can lead to different statistics being produced from seemingly similar concepts. The ABS advises all users to consider these issues when interpreting statistics.
Deputy Australian Statistician
Australian Bureau of Statistics
This page first published 23 January 2012