Random Analytics: Australian Unemployment: A Global Perspective (Oct 2007 – Sep 2012)

by Shane Granger

I had an interesting discussion today about Australia’s recent increase in its official unemployment rate which rose to 5.4% (seasonally adjusted). That percentile equates to 662,700 unemployed persons. It has been my consistent view that the current unemployment and participation rate data is softened by factors such as seasonal adjustment and under-reporting. My point here is that the real unreported figure could be higher due to severance economy issues and as Australia transitions from an overall boom economy to, at best, a more globally normalised economy.

Rather than focus on that rather negative sentiment I thought it might be useful to have a look at some global data to get a sense of perspective. Here is a look at the official (seasonally adjusted) unemployment figures for Australia, the USA, UK, Spain & Greece.

Figure 1: Unemployment (seasonally adjusted) for Australia, USA, UK, Spain & Greece. Data sourced from the ABS, BLS, ONS & EuroStat.

That gold line which has trended under or around 5% for the entirety of the Global Financial Crisis is Australia.

For the other countries represented in the graph the last five years have been dark days indeed. The US (dark blue), still the world’s largest economy has an official unemployment figure of 7.8% (or 12.1-million persons). The UK (in green) sits at 7.9% (2.57-million) trending at 8% or thereabouts since mid-2009. Then there are the current horror stories of Greece & Spain, both of which now have official Euro high unemployment figures of 25.1%. For Spain there are 5.77-million and Greece 1.26-million unemployed, a total of 7.03 million unemployed for both countries. Put in context this equals more than 60% of the total current Australian Labour force.

So things might not be great in Australia at the moment as we see layoffs across some sectors of the economy and our official unemployment figures nudge up.

I’m happy to bet that you would still rather be in Australia with this economy than in Greece or Spain with their economies?