Thursday, 4 November 2021

How to lie with unemployment stats

Various media and half the House's politicians have been celebrating the unprecedentedly low unemployment figure of 3.4%.

Some have been questioning how on earth we could have a figure so low when business is so, well, locked up.

Chart from Sense Partners, via New Zealand Herald 
[Hat tip Lindsay Mitchell[

Lindsay Mitchell has some of the answer, unearthing some "important numbers to remember whenever you hear Grant Robertson, the Finance Minister, waxing lyrical about the wonderfully low unemployment rate":
To be officially unemployed a person needs to be available for and seeking work. Just over 30,000 Maori in the North Island [for example] are officially unemployed. But over 70,000 are on a Jobseeker benefit.
And since you can be on the Jobseeker benefit with no immediate work obligation, you are not officially unemployed.
[And] in Northland, a region with a high Maori population the unemployment rate is 3.9% yet the Jobseeker rate is 10.5 percent.

In the general population the figures are:

Unemployment rate 3.4%

Jobseeker rate 6.1%

All benefit-dependent rate 11.3%

So what's the real unemployment rate? Whatever it actually is, there's no point asking Grant Robertson for the answer. 

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