Just to echo what other economists have already said, the mooted cuts to the Australian Bureau of Statistics budget seem to me a false economy.Â As economist Barry Hughes told SMH journalist Jessica Irvine:
This is a very bizarre time to be cutting back your statistical indicators at a time when, if we’re not sailing through a fog, we’re certainly sailing through a period of reduced visibility
I’m informed that one of the ways the ABS plans to get $20 million in savings is by scrapping the Employee Earnings and Hours Survey, which has been running since 1976. If true, the 5-yearly census will be the only source of information on union membership and earnings by occupation. Want to know how the gender pay gap has changed? Or how teacher earnings compare with other professions? Under the new regime, the ABS won’t be able to tell you until the next census, due in 2011.
If anyone is putting up a petition, just let me know where to sign.