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Wednesday, 20 September 1972
Page: 993


Senator CARRICK (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he has seen reported statements by employers representatives in New South Wales that in a wide range of occupations there are more vacancies than applicants and that school leavers will be fully employed by the end of this year which is earlier than in previous years. Will the Minister explain in the simplest terms how the so-called seasonally adjusted figures are calculated mathematically and of what possible use they are?


Senator WRIGHT (TASMANIA) (Minister for Works) - My attention has been drawn to the statement to which the honourable senator refers. It is a fact that employers in New South Wales are experiencing difficulty in obtaining the number of employees required. As honourable senators will notice in the figures which were released yesterday as to unemployment the number of unfilled vacancies notified to the Department of Labour and National Service averaged 14,196 a week which compares with a figure of 13,000 a year ago. With regard to the mystical question of seasonal adjustment, we are entering into the sphere of statistics. Employment is influenced by the impact of the termination of school attendance, seasonal occupations such as cane harvesting and other seasonal employment. I understand that the seasonally adjusted figure is reached by taking the average of a particular month's actual unemployment, say over a period of 5 years, and arriving at not a true average but a weighted average in the judgment of the Statistician applicable for that month. It is then related to the actual annual unemployment figure by means of a factor. When the unemployment figure for the month is less than the annual the factor adjusts the unemployment figure up, and when the monthly figure is in excess of the annual it has the effect of adjusting the unemployment figure down. The use that can be made of this seasonally adjusted figure is to give a broad trend. But if one wishes to get the actual state of unemployment at say the month of August 1972, one looks to the actual figure which, from memory, is about 96,000 and not to the seasonally adjusted figure which, from memory, is about 120,000.







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