February national unemployment hit 10.9% - most Australians ever out of work says Roy Morgan poll

IT IS NOT the kind of record that any Australian Government wants to set -- an estimated 2.47 million people out of work. February's unemployment figures are an all-time record, according to Roy Morgan Research.

Glass half full or half empty? Like Australian employment statistics, it depends on your methodology.

Yet the results seem to be in stark contrast to official Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) polls favoured by the Australian Government and official agencies, currenly touting about 5.4 percent unemployment nationally.

The reason for the discrepancy is simple: different methodologies. Roy Morgan Research has been conducting the same unemployment polls nationally since 1948, and still uses the same methodology. As pointed out in a January report on the Business Acumen website, the ABS changed its methodology in 2006 and now uses a smaller sample polling method that regards someone as employed if they have had as little as one hour of work in any week of the survey period or have been unavaIlable for work for any reason.

The Roy Morgan poll also has separate figuRes for the 'under-employed' -- those who are seeking more work, such as part-timers and contractors. The ABS monthly poll does not survey underemployment.

"The latest Roy Morgan unemployment estimate of 10.9 percent is more than double the 5.4 percent currently quoted by the ABS for January 2013," said Roy Morgan executive chairman, Gary Morgan.

Roy Morgan's February employment estimates show Australian unemployment rate unchanged at 10.9 percent, totalling 1.36 million people unemployed, up 33,000 in a month.

Mr Morgan classified it as "a new record high figure".

"Australia's under-employment rose 45,000 to 1,113,000 meaning a record high 2.473 million (up 78,000) Australians (19.8%, up 0.1%) are either unemployed or under-employed," he said.

"Although total employment rose 105,000 to 11,151,000 over the last 12 months (full-time employment up 89,000 to 7,497,000 and part-time employment up 16,000 to 3,654,000), there was a far greater rise in total Australian unemployment and under-employment - now up a significant 329,000 over the past 12 months.

"These figures clearly show that the Australian economy remains in a weakened state with record high unemployment and under-employment. The economy clearly needs extra stimulation and in the run-up to the Federal Election our politicians will find it harder to provide the leadership in improving the Australian economy we all require.

"The uncertain political situation means the RBA was wrong to leave interest rates unchanged at 3 percent and must recommence cutting interest rates at the earliest opportunity.

"Australian interest rates are amongst the highest in the world and international news backs up the argument that the RBA must re-start lowering interest rates immediately."

Mr Morgan said at the time of this monthy's RBA interest rate decision, the Dow Jones Index in the US closed at a record high of 14,253.77.

"This is the first time the Dow Jones has closed at a record high since the beginning of the Global Financial Crisis," he said. "However, in Australia the All Ordinaries Index is currently around 5,100, which is around 1,700 points (25%) below its record high above 6,800 reached more than five years ago in November 2007.

"In addition, news today from the ABS National Accounts provides a worrying illustration of Australia's economic situation with the southern States of Australia - Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania now all in recession, as well as the ACT - all of which have now recorded two quarters of negative growth during the latter half of 2012."


* In February 2013 an estimated 1.36 million Australians (10.9% of the workforce) were unemployed. This is virtually unchanged from last month but is the equal highest rate of unemployment since January 2002. The Australian workforce* was 12,511,000, comprising 7,497,000 full-time workers (up 301,000); 3,654,000 part-time workers (up 38,000) and 1,360,000 looking for work (up 33,000) according to Roy Morgan.

* A further 1,113,000 Australians were under-employed - working part-time and looking for more work. This is 45,000 more than a month ago, and represents 8.9% of the workforce* (up 0.1%).

* In total 2.473 million Australians (19.8% of the workforce) were unemployed or under-employed in February. This is up 0.1% or 78,000 more than last month and also up a large 329,000 (2.3%) over the past 12 months since February 2012.

* In February an estimated 649,000 Australians (down 95,000) were looking for full-time work, a trend in February that has happened in seven out of the last 10 years, while a record high 711,000 (up a large 128,000) are now looking for part-time work. Considerably higher than the rise a year ago of 17,000.
* The Roy Morgan survey on Australia's unemployment and ‘under-employed'* is based on weekly interviews covering January 2007 - February 2013 and in total 319,145 Australians aged 14 and over were interviewed face-to-face including 3,964 interviews in February 2013.


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