ABS responds to "A letter for Shorten in Singapore" (The Australian, 6 July 2012, p24)

ABS methodology is not in dispute

I take exception to the claims in The Australian that the ABS methodology for providing estimates of the unemployment rate or the number of unemployed is disputed, and the implication that the current estimates are incorrect (P24, Friday 6 July A Lesson for Shorten in Singapore).

The ABS labour force survey is the best available, using sound statistical methodology, based on international standards, to ensure we produce an accurate picture of employment and unemployment in Australia. The survey is the largest and most comprehensive household survey conducted nationally, collecting information about 60,000 people each month.

In addition to the monthly estimates of employment and unemployment, the ABS compiles estimates of underemployment on a quarterly basis, using the same robust methodology and delivering the same high level of accuracy as for the unemployment statistics. The latest estimate of underemployment is for May 2012, when the official underemployment rate was 7.3%. The total number of unemployed and underemployed is 877,000 or 12.5%.

The ABS is one of the most respected national statistical organisations in the world, providing key indicators on the economic, social and environmental health of Australia. The suite of ABS labour force statistics, which include measures of unemployment and underemployment, form a strong evidence base for decision makers.

Brian Pink
Australian Statistician
Australian Bureau of Statistics