1304.5 - Stats Talk WA, Dec 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/12/2010  Final
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Mixing Drinks
Beverage Vs Beveridge

The Beveridge Curve describes the relationship between unemployment and job vacancies and should not be confused with the Beverage Curve (which describes the relationship between beer and attractiveness).

In particular, data from the Job Vacancy (cat. no. 6354.0) and Labour Force (cat. no. 6202.0) surveys can be graphed to help explain the efficiency of job matching in the economy, and highlight some of the issues in having a two-speed economy.

Curvey Figures
The location of the curve relative to the origin of the graph indicates the overall level of labour market activity. When the curve moves inwards towards the origin it represents an improvement in the job matching process, as workers find jobs faster - filling vacancies and reducing unemployment. While an outward movement of the curve suggests a decline in the efficiency of the matching process, probably due to greater structural mismatch, as both vacancies and unemployment rise.

Recently the curve appears to have shifted to the left and higher. However, the real question is ‘has there been an improvement in the matching of vacancies to those now currently seeking work’? WA recorded 28,400 job vacancies and 54,800 unemployed people in August 2010. So to quote George Thorogood why don’t all those unemployed people just “get a haircut and get a real job”?

But it isn’t quite so simplistic. Other factors come into play such as the long-term unemployed (do they have the skills required to do the work?), job churn (e.g. Gen Y), labour mobility, 457 visa immigration (from an external workforce) and the degree of participation in the labour force (e.g. ratio of social benefits to minimum wages, gender, parenthood, retirement intentions and an ageing population).

The Beveridge Curve for WA 1991 to 2010 (May)

Beveridge Spiked?
From the graph there was a large spike in job vacancies from 2003 to 2010, accompanied by a decline in unemployment, reflecting the rapid expansion of the WA economy. This implies a current shortage of skilled labour in WA.

All this economics could lead a man (or woman) to drink and many Australians already drink alcoholic beverages on a regular basis.

So how much are we drinking?
According to Apparent Consumption of Alcohol, Australia, 2008-09 (cat. no. 4307.55.001), the apparent per capita consumption of ‘pure alcohol’ by persons aged 15 years and over in Australia was 10.1 litres per person. Of which, beer contributed 44.5%, wine 35.3%, spirits 12.8% and pre-mixed beverages 7.3%.

Now, let’s put this ‘pure alcohol’ measure into everyday volume terms. The apparent volume of beer consumed per capita was 104.7 litres per person or about a middy a day (287 mL). While the volume of wine consumed per capita was 28 litres or just over half a glass a day (77 mL).

Interestingly, it seems that there aren’t enough Aussies to drink everything that is produced domestically, with Australia being a net exporter of alcoholic beverages. From International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0), Australia exported $2.3 billion of alcoholic beverages in 2009-10, while we imported $1.2 billion.

Apparent consumption estimates the amount of alcohol available (based on excise, import and sales data), but does not estimate the actual amount consumed as it does not account for factors such as waste or storage. It is not a measure of the actual amount of alcohol consumed.

Risky Drinking
So, while it seems there is a surplus of alcoholic beverages on offer, we all know that a ‘few too many’ usually results in a seedy hangover. From the National Health Survey, 2007-08 (cat. no. 4364.0), around 13% of Australians aged 15 years or over consumed alcohol at a level that posed a risk to their health in the long-term. The rate was higher for men (14%) than for women (11%).

Around 16% of men in the age groups between 18-64 years drank at risky or high risk levels, with the proportion dropping to 12% for those aged 65-74 years. However, for women the proportion drinking at risky and high risk levels sat generally around 12% for most age groups with a dip for those in their prime childbearing years, aged 25-34 years (9%).

From Australian Social Trends Dec 2009 (cat. no. 4102.0), beer was the most common drink consumed by men aged 15 years or over who drank at risky or high risk levels (85%). Spirits (36%) and ready-to-drink spirits or liqueurs (RTDs; 35%) were more popular among young men who were risky or high risk drinkers than those aged 25 years or over (18% and 10% respectively).

Women who drank at risky or high risk levels had a different pattern in terms of the type of alcohol consumed. The type of alcohol consumed by young women, aged 15-24 years, who were risky or high risk drinkers was varied, with no one type significantly more popular than any other.

However, these young women were around 4.9 times as likely to have consumed RTDs, and 3.7 times as likely to have consumed spirits, than those aged 25 years or over who mostly drank wine (82%).

The 2001 National Health and Medical Research Council Drinking guidelines, recommend no more than an average of 4 standard drinks a day for a man and 2 standard drinks a day for a woman.

Type of alcohol consumed by risky or high risk drinkers 2007-2008

Pricey Drinks
So, who can afford to purchase the tipple of their choice? It seems that Perth beer drinkers are the ones benefiting from the boom and can afford to pay an annual 6.3% rise in the price of beer, while wine has increased 1.0% and spirits 1.7% This compares to an overall CPI annual increase in Perth of 3.1% from the Consumer Price Index, Australia, September quarter 2010 (cat. no. 6401.0).

Maybe the smaller increase in the price of wine reflects the fact that in 2008-09 wine grapes took up a rather large 12,446 hectares in WA involving 794 agricultural businesses, from Vineyards Estimates, Australia (cat. no. 1329.0). I’m sure that all those businesses hope that relative wine consumption increases at the expense of beer.

All the best to all our readers for the Christmas season.

Cheers in moderation!

Greg Hilton

Greg Hilton
Client Liaison Unit Hoping to avoid a hangover from the office Christmas party.