Thursday, April 12, 2012

Unemployment, steady at 5.2%; media bull on carbon tax, increasing

The ABS today released the latest Labour Force figures.

The figures are quite good. Not “wow feel the rush of the air past your ears as the economy goes boom” good, but good nonetheless.

The Seasonal and Trend Unemployment Rates stayed steady at 5.2%. The trend rate has now been at 5.2% since last August. Employment grew by 44,000 in seasonal terms, and also up a touch in trend terms as well. Full-time employment increased 15,800 (0.2%) and part-time employment increased 28,200 (0.8%). Again, nice to see.


[UPDATE: I forgot the golden rule that every post about the economy must mention interest rates. I think these figures give little reason for the RBA not to drop rates. The trend is still very flat.]

In other good news the number of hours worked rose in trend terms for the first time in 6 months


There was also a nice 2% in crease in the participation rate (seasonal terms)


The big growth came in the NSW, but all states did well except poor old Tassie:


And to update my graph from yesterday on the cumulative growth in employment in each state since 2008, we see WA having fun in the sun, and Tasmania really in the depths of despair.


The Employment to Population rate also rose in seasonally adjusted terms, but continued its decline in trend terms to a run of 14 months. We are still a whole percentage point below where we were prior to the GFC.


Women were the big winners this month – their employment growing by 0.1% in trend terms compared to males going up by 0.02%


And now the monthly, “Hey America and the UK – How you doing?”



With the Carbon Price to come into effect in July, the ACCC is supposedly going to be hot on any company spouting bullshit about the impact – to whit you are not allowed to claim the carbon price is the reason prices may be rising if they are actually not the reason. The ACCC gives examples such as:

  • ‘Beat the Carbon Tax – Buy Now!’
  • ‘Our prices will be hit hard when the carbon price comes in’.

They also suggest you can’t fraudulently say thing like:

  • Our prices have increased by X% because of the carbon price’.

Well businesses need not worry. They don’t need to make such claims. It seem the media are at hand to do such work for them. Today on The Australian's website we had this little headline:

Carbon tax bull The Australian

The headline is pretty definitive: The Carbon Tax will add $380 to power bills in NSW. Except the article (which came via AAP) contained this:

In a draft report handed down by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) today, the authority recommended an average price hike of 16 per cent across the state.

Price hikes will vary for the three regulated electricity retailers, with EnergyAustralia customers facing the biggest increase of about 19.2 per cent in their bills.

This could mean an extra $338 per year for households

Wait…. “could”? The headline didn’t suggest any “could” wriggle room. And doesn’t the headline say $380? So what is this “$338” figure doing here? Hmm read on:

Meanwhile, Country Energy customers could be slugged with a 17.6 per cent rise, or about $381 a year for households and $494 a year for businesses.

And Integral Energy could hike their prices by just over 10 per cent, or about $182 per year for households and $237 for small-business owners.

Ahhh so Country Energy uses could be paying $381 a year extra, but those who get electricity from other providers would be paying less of an increase. So really the $380 is at best an “up to $380”… Oh well, at least that up to $380 is all because of the Carbon Tax, right? I mean the headline couldn’t contain two misleading parts could it?

IPART chairman Dr Peter Boxall said the proposed increases were due in equal measure to the rising costs of the network's poles and wires and the introduction of the federal government's carbon price.

"Around half of the increase in NSW electricity prices from 1 July is because of the continuing rise in forecast costs faced by the retailers from the electricity network," Dr Boxall said in a statement.

"The other half is due to increasing wholesale electricity costs faced by the retailers resulting from the introduction of a carbon price on emissions from electricity generators."

So the carbon tax is the cause of half of the possible increases.


I guess the subeditor was just too pig ignorant to be able to work out that half of $380 is not all of $380. Or maybe 380 divided by 2 was beyond his or her acumen.

So not $380. Maybe up to $190.

If any of the energy companies had put out media statements with a headline the same as The Australian’s I would suggest they would be in a world of hurt from the ACCC. But because The Oz is a mere news organisation, I suppose truth ain’t such a big concern. To write that the carbon tax will add $380 to NSW power bills is not merely misleading, it is a lie. And the lie is revealed in the actual report below the headline.

Is this a one off? Why no. All the tabloids are running with Andrew Clennell’s story about jumps in energy prices. Clennell’s article begins:

ELECTRICITY bills are set to rise more than $300 - or 16 per cent - next year. Half of the rise has been blamed on the carbon tax.

And yet the headline in each of the websites?

Bracing for $300 jump in power bill as the carbon tax hits

Yep let’s blame the carbon tax for the whole $300 worth.

Such headlines are why when journalists from certain newspapers tell me on Twitter that they just report the facts and their organisation has no bias I laugh loud and hard.

UPDATE Straight after posting this, rather coincidentally The Australian changed the headline on the story to this:

Carbon tax 'to add up to $380 to power bills in NSW' - The Australian

So now it reads:

Carbon tax 'to add up to $380 to power bills in NSW'

Except as we already know, the Carbon Tax will not add “up to $380” it will at worst add up to $190 (that is half of $380).

So not only have they got it wrong once, when they tried to correct it by making the headline look like a quote they STILL GOT IT WRONG.

That takes skill.


Bill said...

"Women were the big winners this month – their employment growing by 0.1% in trend terms compared to males going up by 0.5%"

Is the decimal point in the correct spot?

Jarrod said...

Kevin Wilde is on Twitter saying that 90% of the cost increase for Integral customers is due to the carbon tax.

Integral's increase was half that of the other two providers.

Besides that, this is ridiculous talking about hundreds of dollars per year, then saying "an extra $380 on power bills". It sounds like it's literally going to be an extra $380 on your quarterly bill.

Greg Jericho said...

Jarrod - Wilde is quote the NSW Energy Miinster, Chris Hartcher who is saying the 90% figure. And from what I can gather Hartcher is suggesting as last year prices went up 2% and now they going up 16%.

Now where he is getting 90% from I don't know, but perhaps he is thinking that as prices went up 2% last year and this year they're going up 16% that means that 14 of the 16 is due to the carbon tax, which would work out at 90ish%. An interesting take.

Anonymous said...

The campaign of lying via headlines to destroy the Gillard government goes on.

It's pretty clear what they're doing at News, just a shame that more people don't have to time to expose all of Murdoch's lies. Indeed, most people just take in the headlines while they get on with their lives. Hence we have a badly misinformed electorate.

Thanks Greg, please keep up the good work.

Greg Jericho said...

Thanks Bill. The figure was wrong it should be 0.02%. All fixed.

Anonymous said...

Death by headlines, yes.

Remember the flood levy? The anger? The outrage? How it was going to send us all broke?

They seemed to have moved on from that little hissy fit. Unfortunately, just on to another hissy fit.