Lies, damned lies and statistics.
That used to be the damning indictment of the science. But, increasingly, we are driven by data. We swear by it. A lot of our perceptions is shaped by numbers. And, we also let data dispel a number of our misconceptions.
New economic data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics do both – open our minds to new ideas and dispel some misconceptions as well.
Let’s look at two new ideas. One, the mining sector is no longer what the Australian economy is all about; and two, it might be time to acknowledge the impact of the digital economy.
Robust jobs growth
To dispel some wrong notions, look at the employment numbers, which dispel the recent doom and gloom, in time so that we may celebrate the new year. Australia generated 58,100 jobs over the three months to November. Remarkably, this growth has been achieved without the help of the mining sector, considered a traditional high-flier. In fact mining jobs fell for the second straight quarter, losing about 8,000 jobs.
As CommSec points out, the fact is that the economy is constantly evolving and responding to change, and may no longer be dependent on mining to fuel growth.
The real growth catalyst in today’s digital economy might be, well, the Internet. A huge change in the operation of the economy is the “trend for consumers and businesses to purchase goods online, requiring the goods to be stored and distributed to end purchasers,” CommSec pointed out.
Of the net jobs growth, 47,500 – or over 80% — came in Transport, Postal & Warehousing. In fact, it was the biggest quarterly rise for the sector on record. Remember, the jobs here are likely those for courier drivers, postal workers and warehousing staff. Data show that Postal and Courier Pick-up and Delivery Services sector created 13,600 new jobs while Warehousing & Storage Services added 12,400.
Net, e-commerce rising
So, what’s going on?
“We can’t conclude with any certainty, but trends in employment over the past three months point to the influences of the Internet, online spending and the high Aussie dollar on the economy,” CommSec said in a research note last week.
Curiously, the technology sector itself seems to be losing jobs. Over the past three months, the most job losses occurred in the information, media and telecommunications sector. The 15,400 job losses are the worst in the 20 years of available records.
Finally, digest another number. New car sales continued to rise to record highs – 1.09 million for the 12 months to November.
Obviously, numbers don’t always tell a tale or one that is easy to pick. Shall we say: Go figure out!