Katter’s bizarre take on labour numbers

Over the years we’ve got used to Bob Katter’s rather eccentric views and often distorted view of the world. In a piece in today’s Innisfail Advocate he rails against the Federal budget for apparently not stopping “600,000 migrants a year” from taking our jobs. He then points to an “additional 200,000 school leavers each year” and bemoans the fact the economy is only producing 200,000 new jobs a year.

What Bob fails to mention (or perhaps he really just doesn’t even think this far into an issue?) is that, whilst there may be “600,00 migrants a year” there are of course a large number flowing the other way. The latest ABS data shows that for the year to Sept 2014 net migration was just over 200,000. Bob also fails to see that for all the school leavers coming into the workforce there are plenty of others (retirees) leaving it. The latest ABS labour force data for Apr 2015 shows that over the past year the total labour force (those in or looking for work, and that includes the school leavers and immigrants) rose by just over 230,000 (Trend data). Over the same time the number employed rose by 190,000.

So while Bob’s rather lopsided explanation of the problem appears to suggest that, with 600,000 migrants and 200,000 school leavers and only 200,000 jobs, there is a 600,000 pa shortfall (blame the foreigners Bob!) the reality is a rather less exciting 40,000 deficit (0.3% of the work force).

Yes, employment is not growing as quickly as it could, and as a result the unemployment rate has increased over the past 12 months. But to suggest, as Bob seems to, that turning off the migration tap is the remedy is just agri-socialist, populist nonsense of the worst and most dangerous kind.

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