Member for Kiama Gareth Ward has been caught out overshooting the Illawarra’s employment growth by a massive 8,300 after a detailed examination of the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures, Member for Shellharbour, Anna Watson said today.

Mr Ward, also the Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and South Coast, should be even more embarrassed because the ABS data used by him carries its own specific warning that ‘raw’ regional employment data is prone to error as it is based on very small population samples.

“What the ABS average monthly employment statistics show for jobs growth in the Illawarra is actually much, much smaller for the region than what Mr Ward has claimed.

“Average monthly employment for the Illawarra between March 2014 to February 2015 stood at 134,400, while average monthly employment in the region between March 2015 to February 2016 stands at 141,200.

“These average monthly employment data for the Illawarra – which the ABS itself recommends is the best method of determining employment growth – indicates that the Illawarra’s labour market has only grown by 6,800 – not the 15,100 jobs claimed by Mr Ward.

“This is 8,300 less jobs than Mr Ward’s rosy-coloured view of his Government’s record in the Illawarra.

“The difference between what Mr Ward claims has been employment growth in the Illawarra (15,100 between February 2015 to February 2016) by his use of ABS ‘raw’ data and what the average monthly employment data from the ABS shows is a massive 55% blow-out.

“Mr Ward is infamous for blow-outs: for example, he announced the Berry Bypass would only cost $510 million, when in fact it ended up costing an extra $70 million – or 13% more.

“Mr Ward should have done some basic legwork and heeded the ABS’s own warnings on the use of ‘raw’ regional employment data before just stamping his name on a pre-prepared press release issued by the Premier’s Office for local Liberal MPs to send out to the local media”, she said.

Ms Watson said while she welcomed any increase in employment growth in the Illawarra, it was important that data was based on accurate calculation rather than a figment of Mr Ward’s imagination.

31 March 2016



Since February 2004, regional Labour Force estimates have been produced using regional benchmarks to improve their quality. Despite this, care should be taken with the interpretation of regional estimates. The ABS recommends that:

  • LFS regional estimates be used with caution due to the high degree of variability, particularly for the regions with smaller populations.
  • Users calculate regional estimates as annual averages.