Jobs lift all about bullshit

Via the ABC:

Australia’s official unemployment rate fell last month from 7.5 per cent to 6.8 per cent.

The result surprised basically all economists, including those at Treasury and the Reserve Bank, who were expecting the unemployment rate to deteriorate again.

So what happened?

According to the Bureau of Statistics, the number of employed persons increased by 111,000 in August.

But data shows the jobs growth was entirely driven by a surge in “non-employees” — self-employed people (owner-managers) with no employees who work in an unincorporated enterprise (e.g. a sole trader).

It’s the ‘gig economy’

Some economists suspect practically all those “non-employees” were working in the gig economy.

That means the surprise surge in employment wasn’t what it seemed.

“Delivery drivers, and riders, of major online delivery services are not employed by their respective delivery companies,” Deutsche Bank economist Phil O’Donaghoe wrote in a note to clients.

“They are, in effect, ‘self employed’ contractors, and would be classified as such by the ABS.

“Indeed, the Fair Work Ombudsman definitively ruled that to be the case in the middle of last year.

“There will have been a significant increase in demand for such workers, especially in Victoria during the month, given lockdown conditions.

“So it is not all bad news.”

Danielle Wood, the chief executive of the Grattan Institute, noticed the same thing.

“Buried amongst the surprisingly good jobs figures today … almost all the increase in employment was for the self-employed,” Ms Wood tweeted.

“Big rise in the gig economy is my guess.”

Disconnect between jobs and hours worked

One issue with ‘gig economy’ employment is the disconnect between employment and hours worked.

That was starkly apparent in the ABS data — despite an increase in employment of 111,000 persons — hours worked rose just 0.1 per cent last month.

“So a surge in employment, but not via employees in a typical business structure, and it is fair to infer that many of those new workers hardly worked for many hours (given the paltry rise in overall hours worked),” Mr O’Donaghoe said.

Why did economists think unemployment rate would rise?

Leading up to Thursday’s jobs data, economists knew the latest payroll jobs index had decreased by 1.2 per cent last month.

The fall in the index suggested there had been a large number of job losses in August.

However, gig economy jobs aren’t captured in the payroll jobs index.

Gig workers aren’t on any company’s payroll because they are self-employed contractors.

That’s why the surge in gig economy jobs caught everyone off guard.

It has to do with how the ABS classifies payroll jobs

The ABS classifies payroll jobs as ’employee jobs’ for which a payment is reported to the Australian Taxation Office through the Single Touch Payroll system.

‘Employee jobs’ include the jobs held by employees and by owner-managers of incorporated enterprises.

Owner-managers of unincorporated enterprises — the largest component of the employment growth in August — are not covered by the payroll jobs definition.

That’s why gig economy jobs slipped through the cracks.

In the payroll job index, there is also lower coverage of small businesses (<20 employees) than large and medium businesses.

“As a result, the increase in owner-managers of incorporated enterprises without employees is also less likely to be reflected in the payroll jobs series,” the ABS said.

What will happen to unemployment from here?

Citi economists Josh Williamson and Faraz Syed say, despite the surge in the number of sole traders in August, the employment data was promising.

“The August data shows that jobs growth remained solid mid-way through the third quarter,” they said.

“That said, the recovery is still nascent and comes with a number of caveats.”

They said the economy needed to see growth in employee jobs, not non-employee jobs.

“This is because we expect further gains in labour force participation in coming months as more JobSeeker recipients return to the labour force and in the long-run from a return of international migrants of prime-working age,” they said.

“The demand side of the labour market needs to move from creating jobs when people create businesses to employing labour as these businesses grow.

“We believe this will occur if governments continue to re-open state economies and allow demand growth to naturally increase.

“The large gain in part-time employment alongside the type of employment generated in August could also have implications for wages growth, which may be lower than if the employment was from more traditional employee job creation.”

In short, it’s bullshit figures arising from bullshit jobs. And how many of these are temporary workers?

The only number that matters today is the 23% of underemployed Australians:

ABS numberwang is now hostile to Australians and their living standards.

David Llewellyn-Smith
Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith (see all)


  1. Next time have a photo of a ‘student’ handing out pamphlets for UberEats or DoorDash or ………………….

  2. That’s not bullshit……….

    This is Bullshit – Bullshit Australia!

    At this stage of the game it simply begs the question of whether it is the policy of the current Australian LNP government, headed by PM Scott Morrison, to completely trash the competitive basis of the Australian economy and to inflict lasting economic pain on all Australians.

    Further to that, if we think it was an ALP government (Gillard’s) which OK’d the Gladstone white elephant, and governments of both flavours which have looked the other way while Australian gas which once meant amongst the cheapest gas prices in the world for Sydney and Melbourne, and therefore cheap electricity, has become about the world’s most expensive – while both sides of politics try to nudge coal seam gas and fracking on a population all too aware of the environmental and health costs this entails – then the following question simply arise.

    Does Australia’s body politic – both mainstream sides including the Lberal Party, the National Party and the Australian Labor Party – have at its core an economic policy of completely trashing the competitive basis of the Australian economy and to inflict lasting economic pain on all Australians?

    Have Australian public sector data gathering, regulatory, and policy formulation organisations and departments been so corrupted that they do not identify the above? Have they been so neutered that they cannot report the above to Australian politicians?

    And at that point

    Are Australian political and public sector elites acting in the best interests of Australians? Are they accountable for acting in the interests and explaining their actions to Australians to a sufficient degree enabling Australians to feel that their politicians and senior policy makers are accountable to them? ….and if they are not, How can they be made more so?

    It is time for open revolt.

    I think it is time for a new political party which I would call putatively Bullshit Australia – the party to identify and deal with Australian Bullshit and to promote informed and data backed decisionmaking throughout the political and administrative bodies of Australia, and to hold politicians, public officials and corporate interests to account for past decisions made, starting with a permanent standing Australian Corruption Commission.

    Current Members
    Gunnamatta –(VIC)
    Forrest Gump (Secretary of the ‘No Bullshit’ wing of the Party)
    Bendy Wire – (WA)
    The Sling Shot Boys
    Haroldus (NSW)
    Ermington Plumbing (NSW)
    China Plate
    Arthur Schopenhauer
    Mining Bogan
    Gavin (VIC)
    Tassie Tom (TAS)
    Banana Man
    Totes BeWoke
    RaglanParade (VIC)
    Ukraine fn
    The Claw
    Happy Valley (NSW)
    my torana
    Hill Billy 55
    Elbe1 (NT)

    [Currently 46)

    I propose we aim initially – the next Federal election – at trying to get up 4 Senators from each state. I propose we get as far as we can up the nose of the current ‘elites’ by constipating their policy platforms in the Senate.
    I think/suspect we currently lack women…….

    Key Slogan
    ‘This is Bullshit!’
    Men and Women of Australia, Have you ever wondered about your energy costs ………‘This is Bullshit!’
    Do you wonder why your salary hasnt gone up in donkeys years? ‘This is Bullshit!’
    Do you work in a large organisation wondering why psychopaths inhabit the upper floors and you get stuck with meaningless KPIs? ‘This is Bullshit!’
    Do you worry about if your kids will get a decent education in a government school while ‘elite’ private schools get more funding from all levels of government than your kids school does? ‘This is Bullshit!’
    Do you wonder why your governments keep banging on about immigration needed for skills shortages when kids with Master degrees are joining the military as base grade grunts because there is nothing else for them to get into? ‘This is Bullshit!’
    Do you wonder why Australia, the worlds largest gas exporter has the worlds most expensive gas in Sydney and Melbourne? ‘This is Bullshit!’
    Do you wonder why foreign nationals traipsed on in and laundered money through Australian real estate so your kids need to move to Campbelltown to be able to afford a house, and hack out a 2 hour commute to a peanut paying gig every day? ‘This is Bullshit!’

    Every time a mainstream politicians opens his mouth (or her mouth) in the public domain, just point out ‘This is Bullshit!’

    Draft Policy Platform – for discussion/arguing about/ data provision
    I propose that the Bullshit Australia and the Macrobusiness cognoscenti run a full campaign in the upcoming election to get ourselves elected as the swing players, running on a platform revolving around (with negotiations/debate/argy bargy) the below…….

    – which would at least offer some sort of genuine left and data backed – and openly transparent – presence in parliament

    Policy Positions


    · Enshrine Medicare into Constitution

    · Enshrine ABC funding into Constitution

    · Enshrine Australian Bureau of Statistics funding into Constitution

    · Enshrine political party funding transparency into Constitution

    · Enshrine freedom from foreign influence legislation into constitution

    · Enshrine requirement for all candidates for every election in Australia to be approved by AEC prior to standing for parliament

    · Enshrine a National Crime & Corruption Commission into Constitution and give it investigatory powers.


    · End negative gearing

    · End capital gains tax dispensation

    · End health insurance rebate

    · Implement Federal Land tax

    · Remove PAYE taxation for those earning under 55K (but retain/create Medicare (4%), Defence (2%), ABS (1%) and ABC (1%) levy

    · Inclusion of family home in determination of access to the aged pension where the home is worth more than 500k.

    · Development and maintenance of publicly available database on Australian taxpayers [companies & individuals]

    Economic and Monetary Policy

    · Reinclusion of employee and community representatives on RBA Board.

    · Requirement for RBA to report quarterly to Parliament on monetary policy in relation to wages and housing costs

    · Requirement for RBA to report quarterly to Parliament on the effective use of taxpayers funds in relation to support for Australian banks and financial system entities.

    · Requirement for RBA, Treasury, and other government agencies (including ABS) to develop standards and monitor quality of life issues being faced by Australians (both on average and by decile) and report on how policies being adopted by them influence a range of demographics

    · Mandate the creation of new entity to be called the Australian personal public and corporate debt commission to produce analysis on the debt, indebtitude and debt servicing of Australians and Australian entities This organisation is to have representatives of the RBA, Treasury, State governments, local governments, retail banks and community organisations at a board level.

    · Requirement for RBA to report quarterly to Parliament on money creation and the beneficiaries of money creation over the preceding quarter and year, and forecast such into the future.


    · Commence federal government building housing

    · Implement competitive GST Bonus payable to states which do best on housing affordability and housing creation

    · Enshrine right to housing into Constitution

    · Enshrine a National Probity and Veracity test for all funds used for housing purchases.

    Urban Design and Construction
    · Establish a set of national standards for residential design and construction. Enforce these standards with criminal penalties.
    · Establish ‘Plot Ratios’ in the state planning systems to ensure adequate green space on residential blocks.
    · Establish a national policy to harvest storm water for urban parks and open spaces.
    · Establish access to natural light as a property right.
    · Re-establish the professional registration of building related engineering services.
    · Outlaw private building surveyors and re-establish the system of Municipal Councils administering building standards.


    · Mandate real time visibility of politicians allowances and outlays

    · Mandate Housing affordability requirement for all politicians to reaffirm whenever they propose legislation

    · Audit all payments to or on behalf of politicians

    · Mandate funding transparency for all levels of Australian government (Federal State and Local), and a donations and gifts declaration requirement for all persons above a particular level (about SOG C in APS) in all public services of budget funded organisations (including Universities)

    · Mandate rate of politicians salary at 2, 3 , or 4 times average full time earnings.

    · Mandate access to politicians super is only accessible by vote of the seat which politician represented each 5 years at rate of 25% 50% 75% or 100% of standard politician rate.

    · Mandate all politicians and all political aspirants seek and gain clearance from Australian Electoral Commission on suitability for office regarding S144 of the Constitution & fiscal relationships with the Australian Taxpayer

    Industrial Relations

    · Reintroduction of the Australian Industrial relations Commission with powers to intervene in cases of Award and Agreement transgression – whether brought before it by parties or now.

    · Additional role for revived AIRC will be to oversee employee superannuation payments, their payment by employers, and the effective deployment of these funds as regards to the interests of employees (and with a view to minimising longer term budget and pension impacts on government outlays).

    · Additional role for revived AIRC to oversee use of contractors, contracting arrangements, and corporate entities to ensure employees are appropriately addressed for entitlements.

    Climate Environment & Agriculture

    Mandate of Inland Water Commission

    Abolition of tradable water rights

    Audit of all inland water resources and adoption of real time water availability monitoring.

    An investigation into the viability of major water users in the Murray darling basin (eg cotton farming) and the impact these have on water for other water usage in the basin

    Mandate of Australian Native Flora and Land Clearance Commission and audit of all Flora on Australian landmass and adoption of real time monitoring

    General policies to proomote reforestation where Australian Native Flora and Land Clearance Commission designates appropriate

    Mandate of Australian Salt Office to promote annd monitor management of salt issues in land use


    · Mandate gas reservation policy to ensure globally cheap electricity and gas.

    · Mandate solar panels and hot water on all new dwelling construction

    · Mandate tax deductability of residential and corporate solar battery investment


    · Enshrine right to lifetime medical care for all Australians who have served in the military more than 7 years

    · Mandate immigration rights (for individuals and families) for those foreign nationals agreeing to serve 10 years in ADF

    · Mandate that no deployment of more than 200 ADF personnel to any particular offshore location or theatre of operations can occur without debate and vote in joint sitting of parliament.


    · Remove student visas from right to residence and housing purchase

    · Remove student fees from first degree in science, mathematics, finance, medicine

    · Increase training of medical practitioners and access to medical degrees

    · Remove all public funding for non government schools


    · Mandate economic diversity criteria

    · Mandate country of origin criteria so that applicants of no nation comprise more than 10% of the total immigration intake in any one year.

    · Enshrine 70k NOM per annum as Immigration base, with priority to refugees and families

    · Allow NOM above 70k per year only where economic diversity, debt, education, housing affordability, intergenerational quality of life and employment conditions are being met.

    · Allow temporary visas in circumstances (eg academic world, some science) where globalised workforce would expect it.

    · End temporary work visas unless companies can demonstrate they have made attempt to develop their own skills in their own workplaces, or made genuine attempt to source skills within Australia.

    · End Special Investor Visas (except where entity is contributing to export or import competing business in Australia employing more than 10 Australian employees)

    Free Trade Agreements

    · Mandate audit of all Free Trade Agreements entered into prior to signature and ratification by Australian parliament

    · Have productivity commission audit all extant FTAs Australia is signatory to

    Foreign Policy
    Foreign Aid with a focus on:
    – The Pacific
    – Supporting nations on the frontline of refugee crises to make safe camps there with the hope they can return.
    – Empowering women in developing countries to make decisions on family size.

    Public Service

    · Commence regionalisation policy for major APS agencies

    · National audit of all APS outsourcing since 2000

    · Mandate that no company identified to shift profits offshore can receive government contract (onus is on company to prove and gain certification from ATO)

    · Mandate that all contracted services in Australian public sector are audited and re[ported on to parliament for effective use of public monies, and with all transition costs (including relocations and redundancies) included in that consideration.

    · Mandate that selection for all Senior Executive Service Positions in the Australian Public Service be subject to approval of APS Probity Commission

    · Mandate creation of Evaluator General for all public policy proposals

    · Mandate all policy that can be based on empirical evidence should be so based
    · Mandate any policy that is intended as an interim measure have a review date and terms of review attached to it, and
    · Mandate that all policy Have a clear plan for the future of the nation at a federal and state level, so policy has a long term rather than short term vision

    Social Welfare

    · Make unemployment the same as study assistance

    · Re Establish Commonwealth Employment Service

    · Mandate requirement for all calls to all social welfare services be monitored, and answered within 10 minutes

    Internet Data

    · Mandate that all Australians own the data collected on them

    Royal Commissions

    · Royal Commission into the Tertiary Education Sector and Links to Foreign States

    · Royal Commission into Private Indebtedness

    · Royal Commission into the Funding of Australian Politicians

    · Royal Commission into Housing Affordability

    · Royal Commission into the advent of COVID 19 – its Origins, entrance to Australia, and effects on the Australian Public

    · Royal Commission into the value for the Australian people & Impact on budget of Australian Public Sector Outsourcing and the Embedding of Private Sector Providers into Australian Public Sector Service Provision

    · Royal Commission into Housing Affordability

  3. Bullshit Australia policy could include – Reduction in normal hours of work per week. Say to 30h/week, to 20h/w over 5 years. ABS figures show (as H&H points out) currently total hours worked is static, even as we inflate the number of “bullshit jobs”. With increasing automation, a policy to share the work equitably will be needed soon. (France banned over-time several years ago). A minimum living wage must be maintained, even in a “gig” economy, for the sake of social cohesion. Major parties are failing on leadership here.
    The irony is that Jobkeeper/seeker bonus payments here, and similar in other developed countries, are a pure Keynesian response to the current crisis; yet in the 1930’s Keynes predicted that, by century’s end, technology would have advanced sufficiently that advanced economies would have achieved a 15-hour work week, but as the late David Graeber pointed out, he didn’t anticipate the power of consumerism. A mature polity might be led to question the costs vs benefits, and morality of the power of the modern electronic media and its demands on individuals’ time and resources.

  4. Jumping jack flash


    Howard’s legacy lives on.

    But its good to know that these incredibly stable gig jobs will surely pay enough for a hapless mortgage slave with a “modest” 400K mortgage to maintain their repayments, and if perchance not, surely pay enough to cover the interest component. Right?

    The recovery is here! Long live the recovery!

    • Howard’s legacy is probably one of the strongest still around today. From high housing costs (that are impossible to unwind without a depression), selling out gas really cheap to Asia on long term contracts, boosting migration up to record highs and getting away with it politically, the GST, he got away with a lot while remaining popular with the electorate. Proved that all you really need to be is a good “marketer” with the current electorate. He got so cocky that he even tried “workchoices”; but that was a little too obvious.

      A big example to me is migration where he played divide-and-conquer poltiics by splitting “battlers/tradies” from every other worker – no coincidence that the main skilled employees that governments/corporates manage to employ like STEM/nursing/etc are paid less than tradies and are the main professions on the skill shortage list. I can understand why the Liberal politicians do idolise him.

  5. “That was starkly apparent in the ABS data — despite an increase in employment of 111,000 persons — hours worked rose just 0.1 per cent last month.”

    Isn’t this the key take away?