Are there 462,000 unemployed people in Australia?

By William Ton and Louise Evans

The Statement

“There’s 462,000 people that are unemployed in Australia and a lot more that are underemployed and looking for more work.”

One Nation leader, Pauline Hanson. July 22, 2019

The Analysis

A report by Ernst & Young accounting firm titled ‘Monetary policy won’t be enough for Australia to generate wages growth’ said the Reserve Bank’s plan to reduce the unemployment rate to generate faster wage growth and higher inflation may not work. Ernst & Young (EY) chief economist Jo Masters said there were now 462,000 more Australians looking for work than there were job vacancies. Ms Masters said low-interest rates alone wouldn’t lift wages if employers could not find staff. “Until we plug the gap between labour supply and labour demand it will be difficult to generate significant wage growth in Australia,” the report said. [1]

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson told Breakfast TV’s The Today Show economists don’t always get it right. She said the country was in “dire straits” and more money needed to be invested in infrastructure projects such as water and coal to create more employment and solve the problem of more people looking for work than there were jobs. [2]

AAP FactCheck examined Pauline Hanson’s claim there were 462,000 unemployed people in Australia.

The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to June 2019 showed there were 692,700 unemployed people in Australia. Seasonably adjusted, the figure was 711,500. [3]

The number of 462,000 quoted by Pauline Hanson on breakfast television comes from an EY report, sent to AAP FactCheck by EY, and refers to the gap between the number of people unemployed compared to the number of job vacancies. [2]

The original number of job vacancies in Australia stands at 230,800 and 241,500 when seasonally adjusted, according to the most recent May figures from the ABS released on July 4, 2019. [4]

Using the latest ABS original figures, the original number of unemployed in June was 692,700 while the number of job vacancies in May was 230,800. The difference or the gap between these two figures is 461,900, or rounded-up 462,000, people looking for work for whom there are no jobs. [3] [4] This is the figure quoted in the EY report.

Based on this evidence AAP FactCheck finds the claim made by Pauline Hanson that there were 462,000 people unemployed in Australia was false. The One Nation leader appears to have misread or misunderstood an EY economist’s report and mixed up the figures. She used the job gap rate of 462,000 - the gap between the number of unemployed people versus job vacancies - instead of the much higher unemployment figure of 692,700 - 711,500 for June 2019.

The Verdict

  • False - The checkable claim is false.

The References

1. ‘Low rates won't boost wages, RBA and government warned’, by Shane Wright. Sydney Morning Herald. July 22, 2019: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/low-rates-won-t-boost-wages-rba-and-government-warned-20190721-p5298e.html

2.The Today Show. Channel 9. June 22, 2019: https://twitter.com/TheTodayShow/status/1153048158445817856

3. ‘6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, Jun 2019’. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (Table 1. Labour force status by Sex, Australia. Unemployed total; Persons, Series ID A84423088J and A84423046K Columns AM and AN). July 18, 2019: https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6202.0Jun%202019?OpenDocument

4. ‘6354.0 - Job Vacancies, Australia, May 2019’. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (Table 1. Job Vacancies, States and Territories. Series ID A590696A and A590698F. Column J and K). July 7, 2019: https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6354.0May%202019?OpenDocument

  • First published July 22, 2019 14:57 AEST