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Tuesday, 26 October 1971
Page: 2483

Dr JENKINS (SCULLIN, VICTORIA) - I ask the Prime Minister whether he will be overseas when the next set of employment figures is released. Did he tell a Press conference in Canberra last week that these figures would contain a pleasant surprise? If so, will he give the House a preview of this pleasant surprise? If it is intended to vary in any way the statistical treatment given to the raw employment figures, will the Prime Minister outline the new procedures so as to avoid any suggestion that the next lot of figures are to be doctored?

Mr McMAHON - Anticipating this kind of question because of an article that appeared in the 'Sun Herald' last Sunday, I immediately caused to be made inquiries from the Government Statistician as to whether there would be any technical factors associated with the October registrant for employment figures. I am informed by him today that no technical adjustments whatsoever are involved. I have had this also cleared with the Department of Labour and National Service. That Department believes that this suggestion that technical factors are involved is a flight of imagination and has no relationship to reality. So that is the position with regard to the so-called technical adjustments. The normal technical adjustments are made over the Christmas period and are reflected in the March figures. They do not take place in any of the other figures involved. As to the first part of the honourable gentleman's question, I was then thinking about the severity of the increase in the registrant for employment figures in actual registrations and I did imply that there might be a change in the severity of the increase in these figures, not than there would be. 1 think it is highly desirable that this matter be put in perspective. Regrettably there has been too great a tendency to use the seasonally adjusted figures when referring to unemployment. I am prepared to say that if 1 were to ask what is meant by seasonally adjusted figures not 2 people on the Opposition benches would know what I was talking about. What the man in the street wants to know is the actual number of registrants. That number is 63,679, which is not an abnormal figure for the month in which we are considering it unless there are strong inflationary pressures and the labour demand is exceedingly high. I hope that when the figures come out either we will look at the actual figures of registrants, which have for so long "Stood us in good stead, or, it we are looking at the seasonal figures, at least we will look at the explanation for them and the technical factors involved. Everyone using seasonal figures is warned by the people who draw them up that they are for technical purposes and do not illustrate the actual figures of registrants existing on the date the registration was taken.

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