Dept of Social Service data slow to show improvements

Our own Conus Trend series for Cairns SA4, based on the original ABS regional data, showed another reduction in Trend unemployment in November to 6.3%. The Dept of Social Security payment recipients data released just before Christmas appears somewhat less positive. Recipient numbers in the region nudged up slightly, although the Conus Trend “Job Seeker Rate” remained unchanged at 8.4%.

When looking at data for our region we have summed the Dept of Social Service totals for the Atherton, Cairns, Innisfail, Mareeba, Mossman and Yarrabah Service Zones. These Service Zones, when taken together, may not precisely correspond to the Cairns SA4 region but would appear to be as good an approximation as we can get.

It also needs stressing that how the Dept of Social Service count those who are seeking jobs and receiving allowances is very different from how the ABS define someone as unemployed. The rules around who receives what allowance also change over time so this is a data set that has to be treated with caution if making comparisons over periods when changes have occurred. The Dept data is provided on an unadjusted, original basis and we have therefore created a Conus Trend series for both the number of Job Seekers and the Job Seeker Rate (to calculate this we have used the Conus Trend Labour Force data for the Cairns SA4 region). As a result of all these caveats we stress that the absolute levels may be difficult to reconcile with other measures, but the movements in Trends (at least over periods when rules don’t change) can provide us with useful supporting evidence.

It would seem that the declines being seen in the ABS (and our derived Conus Trend) series are only being slowly acknowledged in the Dept of Social Services data.

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