ABS responds to ‘Government hits back over jobless figures’ (The Australian Financial Review, 1 Aug 2013, pg 6)

To the editor, Australian Financial Review,

I refer to Joanna Heath's article of 1 August 2013, ‘Government hits back over jobless figures’. The article contained numerous factual errors and misrepresentations about the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Contrary to the claim in the article, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has not called for "a review into potential deficiencies in the way the unemployment rate in Australia is measured". The article also suggests that ABS unemployment estimates are manipulated by changes to government programs. This is not true. The ABS unemployment estimates are compiled independently of government programs and are based on international standards. As Australian Statistician, I have the sole responsibility for determining how ABS statistics are measured and I am not, and cannot, be influenced by the Australian Government in this regard.

The article referred to alternative unemployment estimates. The ABS's unemployment statistics are compiled on the basis of the highest professional standards are of substantially better quality than any other estimates of unemployment that might be produced by others.

Brian Pink
Australian Statistician
August 2013