To the Editor, The Age,
I refer to the article of 14 March 2014 by Peter Martin, ‘Buoys for the jobs as the ABS pulls its figure out’. The article states that the ABS does not believe the employment estimates released on 13 March. This is not true. The ABS employment estimates are based on international standards and methodological best practice. The resulting estimates are subject to normal sampling variation and the ABS provides sufficient information to assist the interpretation of the estimates. This does not imply the ABS does not believe the estimates.
In addition, the small reduced response rate referred to is not associated with the introduction of computer self enumeration but is part of a program to enhance the cost effectiveness of ABS procedures. Analysis undertaken demonstrated that a reduced response rate would not have a significant impact on the quality of the national and state estimates. Furthermore, contrary to the claims in the article, the ABS continues to visit or phone those households who chose not to complete the labour force form using computer self enumeration.
The ABS will continue to be transparent by providing information to assist the interpretation of the estimates including recommending the use of trend estimates for understanding the underlying level and direction of the series.
Deputy Australian Statistician
Australian Bureau of Statistics
14 March 2014