1304.5 - Stats Talk WA, Dec 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/12/2010  Final
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Dancing with the Stats

Tra ra ra boom de ay!

Dancing and statistics may seem an odd couple but you may be surprised at what we can come up with to match a great title! Come and take a whirl with me as I look at the different dancing styles and how they match our statistics!

Waltzing Matilda
Let’s start with the slow yet classic style of the waltz. Do you think of ‘123,123...’ when some one mentions a waltz? The really good thing about a waltz is that a lot of people know what it is and most people can come up with something that would resemble a waltz.

I think the Census is the statistic that is the ABS equivalent of the waltz; it is regular and slow (every five years – don’t forget it’s next year on 9 August) and it has been around for a really long time (did you know that we are celebrating 100 years of Census next year?).

If I was to get a bit smaltzy I might suggest that in the same way that the waltz relies on a partnership between two people to be a beautiful spectacle, the Census relies on a strong partnership between the ABS and the community to be a beautiful set of numbers.

Ballet Dancer

Do the Macarena
What about the macarena? It is another one of those dances that generally people of a certain age know all the steps, it’s a more modern dance and it’s a little bit nerdy, a bit like the biannual, Internet Activity (cat. no. 8153.0)! The macarena was pretty big in its heyday and likewise the Internet Activity enjoys media attention when it is released (keep your eye out for the December 2010 edition due out in March 2011).

Hip Hop Houses
Some groovy stats which move up and down like the hip hop style of dance are the building statistics. In fact the way the original figures in the monthly Building Approvals publication (cat. no. 8731.0) move up and down (as opposed to the steady trend series) it looks like they have got their own beat.

Sexy Figures
Other racy figures include the Retail Trade Statistics (cat. no. 8501.0). Like the building approvals statistics the original retail figures show a flurry of activity with regular highs and sweeping lows. However, I feel that as the statistics are to do with shopping and have that extra passion or buzz that comes from retail therapy, these statistics are more akin to the tango. The tango is a passionate and sexy dance – much like the figures in retail trade (the September figure for WA turnover is $2168.6m which is a very sexy figure).

Now I know what you are thinking – what about the Consumer Price Index (cat. no. 6401.0)? I haven’t mentioned this highly anticipated quarterly statistic, that is often in the news and linked to contracts and pay rises.What dance could possibly encapsulate such an important economic statistic? The answer is the chicken dance! Yes I know it seems odd because no one takes the chicken dance seriously, unlike the CPI, however whenever you go to weddings the chicken dance is certain to be played and it is important that we know the steps. Thankfully it is easy to pick up the steps just like it is easy to pick up the CPI figures.

However, unlike dancing, if you don’t know the correct statistics you can’t just make them up – check out the ABS website (www.abs.gov.au) or ring the National Information Referral Service (1300 135 070).

Naomi Summers
Naomi Summers
Not really known for her dancing although a bit of a groover.