March 31, 2022

Australians say the Roy Morgan unemployment estimate is ‘closer to reality’ than the ABS – for the fifth straight time

Topic: Press Release, Special Poll
Finding No: 8937
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A clear majority of Australians 69% (up 3% points since March 2017) say the Roy Morgan February unemployment estimate (8.5%) is ‘closer to reality’ while only 31% (down 3% points) believe the far lower official ABS February unemployment number (4.0%). This special SMS Roy Morgan Poll was conducted on Tuesday March 29, 2022.

Analysis by Gender & Age

Analysis by gender shows women 71% (up 1% point) are slightly more likely than men 67% (up 7% points) to say the Roy Morgan unemployment estimate is ‘closer to reality’. In contrast 33% (down 7% points) of men and 29% (down 1% point) of women say the ABS unemployment estimate is ‘closer to reality’.

Analysis by age groups shows people of all ages are more likely to believe the Roy Morgan figures - 71% of 18-24yr olds believe the Roy Morgan unemployment estimate is ‘closer to reality’, along with 76% of 25-34yr olds, 68% of 35-49yr olds, 75% of 50-64yr olds and 57% of 65+yr olds.

Analysis by Voting Intention

Analysis by voting intention shows around two-thirds of ALP supporters (69%) and L-NP supporters (63%) say the Roy Morgan unemployment estimate is ‘closer to reality’ compared to only 31% of ALP supporters and 37% of L-NP supporters that say the ABS unemployment estimate is ‘closer to reality’.

Over three-quarters of Greens supporters (76%) and supporters of Independents/ Other Parties (76%) say the Roy Morgan unemployment estimate is ‘closer to reality’ compared to only 24% of either that say the ABS unemployment estimate is ‘closer to reality’ – a difference of over 3:1.

Analysis by State

Analysis by State shows large majorities of people in Victoria (73%), NSW (72%), Queensland (70%), Tasmania (77%) and South Australia (66%) say the Roy Morgan unemployment estimate is ‘closer to reality’.

In contrast, perceptions are more mixed in Western Australia with 56% of people saying the Roy Morgan unemployment estimate is ‘closer to reality’ compared to 44% that say the ABS unemployment estimate is.

Michele Levine, CEO Roy Morgan, says the latest Roy Morgan unemployment estimate (8.5% in February 2022) is ‘closer to reality’ than the latest ABS unemployment estimate (4.0%) – the fifth straight time Australians have trusted Roy Morgan’s estimate more than the ABS:

Block Quote

“For the fifth straight survey, and every time we have measured the views of Australians on this issue, a clear majority of 69% of Australians (up 3% points from March 2017) say the Roy Morgan unemployment estimate of 8.5% in February is ‘closer to reality’ than the ABS unemployment estimate of 4.0%.

“There is widespread agreement that Roy Morgan’s unemployment estimate is ‘closer to reality’ with large majorities of men and women, all age groups and supporters of the ALP, L-NP, Greens and Independents/Other Parties all favouring the Roy Morgan unemployment estimate over the ABS.

“There is a significant difference between the two unemployment estimates and the reliance on the ABS unemployment estimate does mean many media commentators and policy-makers have a lack of understanding of why wage growth in Australia remains so low – wage growth in the year to December 2021 was at an annual rate of only 2.3%.

“The main reason wage growth across the economy remains low is because real unemployment and under-employment is far higher than the monthly ABS unemployment estimates. The latest Roy Morgan unemployment (8.5% of the workforce, 1.23 million) and under-employment (7.8% of the workforce, 1.13 million) estimates show over 2.35 million Australians (16.3% of the workforce) remain looking for work or working part-time and looking for more hours – the under-employed.

“This large cohort of unemployed and under-employed Australians represents nearly 1-in-6 people in the workforce and is over four times higher than the oft-cited ABS unemployment estimate of 4.0% representing only 563,000 workers.

“To be fair, the ABS does (since October 2018) now publish a monthly under-employment estimate which covers 925,000 odd workers in February 2022 for a total of 1.49 million workers unemployed or under-employed, but this figure is rarely mentioned in media and labour force commentary – and is still nearly 900,000 below the comparable Roy Morgan estimate.

“The policies of the Federal Government and the RBA rely heavily on accurate measures of the Australian labour force – and the true levels of unemployment and under-employment. Until there is widespread under-standing that the ABS provides an artificially low estimate of Australian unemployment these key policy-making institutions will continue to misunderstand the real dynamics of the Australian labour market – and continue to over-estimate the level of future wage growth in the economy.”

This special Roy Morgan SMS Poll was conducted on Tuesday March 29, 2022, with an Australia-wide cross-section of 1,035 Australians aged 18+.

Australians were asked: “The ABS Unemployment rate in February was 4.0%. The Roy Morgan estimate for February was 8.5%. Which do you believe is closer to reality?”

ABS v Roy Morgan Unemployment figures

Australians were asked: “The ABS Unemployment rate in February was 4.0%. The Roy Morgan estimate for February was 8.5%. Which do you believe is closer to reality?”

Australians 18+
  June
2013
June
2014
April
2015
March
2017
March 29,
2022
% % % % %
Roy Morgan 73 63 67 66 69
ABS 27 37 33 34 31
TOTAL 100 100 100 100 100

*The ‘Can’t say’ figures on previous interviewing rounds, which have been ‘re-percentaged’ out of this table for purposes of comparison, were June 2013 (21%), June 2014 (13%), April 2015 (11%) and March 2017 (11%).

Electors Political Party Support
  March 29,
2022
L-NP ALP Greens Ind/
Other#
Can’t say
% % % % % %
Roy Morgan 68 63 69 76 76 70
ABS 32 37 31 24 24 30
TOTAL 100 100 100 100 100 100

#Figures for some these demographics must be treated with caution as there are under 50 interviews.

Australians 18+ Gender Age
    Men Women 18-24# 25-34 35-49 50-64 65+
% % % % % % % %
Roy Morgan 69 67 71 71 76 68 75 57
ABS 31 33 29 29 24 32 25 43
TOTAL 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100

#Figures for some these demographics must be treated with caution as there are under 50 interviews.

Australians 18+ Regions State
  March 29,
2022
Capital
Cities
Country
Regions
NSW VIC QLD WA SA TAS#
% % % % % % % % %
Roy Morgan 69 69 69 72 73 70 56 66 77
ABS 31 31 31 28 27 30 44 34 23
TOTAL 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100

#Figures for some these demographics must be treated with caution as there are under 50 interviews.

*In June 2013 the Roy Morgan unemployment figure was 9.7% and the ABS unemployment figure was 5.7%. In June 2014 the Roy Morgan unemployment figure was 10.6% and the ABS unemployment figure was 6.0%. In April 2015 the Roy Morgan unemployment figure was 10.8% and the ABS unemployment figure was 6.1%. In March 2017 the Roy Morgan unemployment figure was 9.4% and the ABS unemployment figure was 5.7% (Jan. 2017) and then 5.9% (Feb. 2017).

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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