Anthony Albanese’s failure to recall Australia’s unemployment rate wasn’t his only labour market blunder – with his claims about casual work also missing the mark.  

The Labor Opposition Leader has repeatedly claimed Australia’s rate of casual work has been increasing when it has been falling for the past two decades with that trend continuing after lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne ended late last year. 

Mr Albanese, who has an economics degree, on Tuesday stood by his claims as he campaigned in the Labor-held south-east Tasmanian seat of Lyons.

‘We’re not exaggerating the level of insecure work and there’s a range of areas in which it’s happening,’ he told reporters at Longford.

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Anthony Albanese’s failure to recall Australia’s unemployment rate wasn’t his only labour market blunder – with his claims on casual work wrong too

‘Casualisation is one of them, the contracting out with labour hire companies is another.

‘The third of course is the rise of the gig economy, the gig economy that doesn’t classify people as employees, it classifies them as contractors.’

At Parliament House on March 29, Mr Albanese said the rate of casualisation was growing, despite Australian Bureau of Statistics data to the contrary.

‘What we see is growth in the gig economy, a growth of casualisation, the growth of contracting out and labour hire companies,’ he told reporters on Budget night. 

Australia’s level of casualisation peaked at 27.6 per cent in August 2003 and dropped to 24.1 per cent in February 2020 just before the national Covid lockdowns.

It fell to 22.5 per cent in August 2021 and slipped further to 20.8 per cent in February this year.

The ABS figures, however, classify casual workers as a share of employees on the payroll while Mr Albanese and Labor are concerned about the rise in contractor labour, used by the likes of Uber and Deliveroo.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison seized on Mr Albanese’s blunder as he campaigned on Tuesday in the marginal Labor-held of Parramatta in western Sydney.

The Labor Opposition Leader (pictured with girlfriend Jodie Haydon) has repeatedly claimed Australia's rate of casual work has been increasing when it has been falling for the past two decades with that trend continuing after lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne ended late last year

The Labor Opposition Leader (pictured with girlfriend Jodie Haydon) has repeatedly claimed Australia’s rate of casual work has been increasing when it has been falling for the past two decades with that trend continuing after lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne ended late last year

Australia's level of casualisation peaked at 27.6 per cent in August 2003 and dropped to 24.1 per cent in February 2020 just before the national Covid lockdowns. It fell to 22.5 per cent in August and dropped to 20.8 per cent in February

Australia’s level of casualisation peaked at 27.6 per cent in August 2003 and dropped to 24.1 per cent in February 2020 just before the national Covid lockdowns. It fell to 22.5 per cent in August and dropped to 20.8 per cent in February

‘His fundamental understanding of the economy is wrong,’ he said.

‘Casualisation has been trending down. It’s been about the same level for 20 years.’ 

Mr Morrison said Mr Albanese’s guess about unemployment being at 5.4 per cent also demonstrated he had no clue about Australia’s economic recovery.

‘He didn’t get it wrong by this much, he missed it by this much,’ he said.

‘I mean, his assumption that unemployment had a five in front of it, that is what I found more staggering. 

‘If he said 4.3 or 4.2 or 3.8 or something like that, yeah, it was a memory slip. 

‘But what this showed was, is he had no idea what has happened with Australia’s economic recovery.’

Despite campaigning against casual work, Mr Albanese said he benefited from casual work when he was studying at the University of Sydney during the early 1980s.

‘I myself worked casually, I worked a range of jobs at McDonald’s, and pancakes on the rocks, that was a good job, 11pm to 7am,’ he said.

‘You get some good sites in the at Pancakes On The Rocks, I tell you.

‘On a Saturday night. I tell you what it also did, I got triple time.’

Mr Albanese was asked a series of questions after he wrongly guessed the jobless rate on Monday – the first full day of the campaign.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison seized on Mr Albanese's blunder as he campaigned on Tuesday in the marginal Labor-held of Parramatta in western Sydney (he is pictured centre with Liberal candidate Maria Kovacic, right, and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, left)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison seized on Mr Albanese’s blunder as he campaigned on Tuesday in the marginal Labor-held of Parramatta in western Sydney (he is pictured centre with Liberal candidate Maria Kovacic, right, and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, left)

‘The national unemployment rate at the moment is… I think it’s 5.4… sorry. I’m not sure what it is,’ he told reporters in Launceston in the marginal Liberal-held seat of Bass.

The jobless rate in February fell to four per cent, the lowest since August 2008. 

Nonetheless, Mr Morrison was wrong when he said unemployment had been higher under Labor.

‘Last time they were in government, unemployment was higher,’ he said. 

The jobless rate fell to four per cent in February and August 2008 when Kevin Rudd was Labor prime minister.

Unemployment has only fallen to four per cent once under a Coalition government since then.

The ABS figures, however, classify casual workers as a share of employees on the payroll while Mr Albanese and Labor are concerned about the rise in contractor labour, used by the likes of Uber and Deliveroo (pictured is a Deliveroo rider at Chatswood on Sydney's North Shore)

The ABS figures, however, classify casual workers as a share of employees on the payroll while Mr Albanese and Labor are concerned about the rise in contractor labour, used by the likes of Uber and Deliveroo (pictured is a Deliveroo rider at Chatswood on Sydney’s North Shore)

In July 2020, following the national Covid lockdowns, the jobless rate of 7.4 per cent was the highest since November 1998.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Tuesday also repeated his incorrect Budget night claim that four per cent jobless rate was the equal lowest since 1974 when it was the lowest since 2008.

‘Despite the pandemic, the unemployment rate is now at its equal lowest level in 48 years at just four per cent,’ he told Sunrise. 

He repeated that incorrect claim at the Parramatta media conference with Mr Morrison.

‘And today we have an unemployment rate at just four per cent – the equal lowest in 48 years,’ Mr Frydenberg said.

The Budget papers predicted the jobless rate falling to 3.75 per cent by September 2022 which would be the lowest since August 1974. 



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