JobSeekers aint “job seekers”

In a previous post a month ago now I made a comment that Bill Cummings had used the wrong data in a report at the Cairns Post: Far North economy suffers as unemployment rate soars to new heights

THE Far North’s unemployment rate is reaching staggering new heights with at least 25 per cent of the population now out of a job.

In a report released by Bill Cummings of Cummings Economics, figures show there has been a 160 per cent increase in the number of people from Cairns, Cassowary Coast, Tablelands, Mareeba and Douglas on unemployment benefits from January to April this year.

The report also showed the biggest jump occurred from February to March, with an 86 per cent increase in the number of people claiming JobSeeker and Youth Allowance payments.

I couldn’t find anything at the Cummings Economics website so sent a polite query on this which elicited a reply:

Mark. I think you will find it sloppy reporting by the Cairns Post rather than an error on my part. Suggest you corrrect your comments.
The relevant statistical note from Cummings Economics has since been posted: May2020 – Economic Impact of Coronavirus Restrictions
Cummings JobSeeker 1
What this shows is that Bill did in fact use the wrong comparative data. The numbers used there for December, January, February are from the monthly DSS Labour Markets and Related Payments series* which has been discontinued since February. The “job seekers” in this series is a subset of the full Newstart recipients data which transferred to the new JobSeeker numbers represented here for March, April and May.
Consequently the chart presented in the Cummings report should look more like this to May 2020:
Cummings JobSeeker 2
Don’t believe me then perhaps the Australian Parliamentary Library is a more authoritative source: The impact of COVID-19 on JobSeeker Payment recipient numbers by electorate. They have used the comparable data that I have and NOT the “job seeker” data that Cummings has.
* Links to all data series are available on the Employment page from the main menu above.


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