Saturday, February 18, 2012

The two-speed job conundrum

This weeks positive labour force data from ABS provoked much discussion without much illumination on the current status of the disparate national economy. Roy Morgan research had previously posted their own survey of a jump in January unemployment, albeit based on different criteria. Some leapt on this as a portender of doom.

Morgan yesterday came out swinging in defence and suggested the ABS had it wrong and was lagging. Differences in criteria of unemploment are a meaningless distraction. However, macrobusiness have posted an interesting chart based on the ABS data estimate for aggregate hours worked by state rather than the unemployment rate or numbers employed.

Macrobusiness have used seasonally adjusted data which can be quite volatile on a monthly basis and year-on-year for January is influenced by last years floods in Queensland. I have graphed this with the ABS trend data for percentage change in year-on-year estimate of aggregate hours worked. Note: this is percentage change so anything above zero% is still growth on the previous year.

The Queensland performance is clearly relatively strong, which may come as a surprise to LNP 'treasurer-elect' Tim Nichols who suggested the opposite . Clearly there is also a problem in Victoria which has plunged into negative territory, and I would suggest this is not just simply the current manufacturing situation but also related to a weakening property market in Victoria which had previously been a leader.

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