Roy Morgan Research
April 02, 2024

Are the central banks in the US, UK, Canada and elsewhere forced to rely on ‘dodgy’ employment data?

Topic: Press Release
Finding No: 9508
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By Gary Morgan, Executive Chairman of Roy Morgan, Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan & Julian McCrann, Roy Morgan Poll Manager

This week Claire Jones from the Financial Times (In the AFR) highlighted the unreliability of employment data being compiled by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the UK and Statcan in Canada since the onset of the pandemic.

The rapid levels of immigration to countries including the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, as well as the rapid changes to working conditions throughout the pandemic and in the years since, have created many issues with how government statisticians measure employment markets.

In addition, respondents in these countries have become less likely to complete labour force surveys and response rates to calls from unknown phone numbers have plunged. All these factors are degrading the reliability of the official data.

These same factors are impacting the official Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) jobs data relied upon by the Federal Government, Reserve Bank, and other Government institutions, to make important policy decisions. In Australia, where there’s been a rapid level of immigration!

Roy Morgan data has consistently shown the ABS is significantly understating the real level of unemployment and under-employment in Australia – as is the case in overseas jurisdictions as well.

The latest Roy Morgan data for February 2024 shows 1.44 million Australians (9.2% of the workforce) are now unemployed and a further 1.5 million (9.6% of the workforce) are now under-employed – a total of 2.94 million (18.8%) either unemployed or under-employed – nearly 3 million people!

The annual ABS release on ‘Potential workers’ which was last released in July 2023 referencing the month of February 2023 – showed there were between 2.7-3.4 million ‘Potential or under-employed workers’ in Australia – depending on the definitions used.

These figures align closely with the monthly Roy Morgan employment results over the last 12-18 months. The next set of ABS ‘Potential workers’ survey results are due for release in mid-July 2024.

For further comment or more information contact:
Michele Levine 0411 129 093 or Gary Morgan 0411 129 094 or email

About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is Australia’s largest independent Australian research company, with offices in each state, as well as in the U.S. and U.K. A full-service research organisation, Roy Morgan has over 80 years’ experience collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size Percentage Estimate
40% – 60% 25% or 75% 10% or 90% 5% or 95%
1,000 ±3.0 ±2.7 ±1.9 ±1.3
5,000 ±1.4 ±1.2 ±0.8 ±0.6
7,500 ±1.1 ±1.0 ±0.7 ±0.5
10,000 ±1.0 ±0.9 ±0.6 ±0.4
20,000 ±0.7 ±0.6 ±0.4 ±0.3
50,000 ±0.4 ±0.4 ±0.3 ±0.2
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