Australians believe that the mining industry is much larger than it actually is, according to a study by the Australian Institute.
In the study released on Thursday, Australians were asked to estimate what percentage of the nations workers are employed by the mining industry. The average response was around 16 per cent, when according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) the actual figure is 1.9 per cent.
"The survey also found Australians believe that mining accounts for more than one third (35%) of economic activity. However, ABS figures show that the mining industry accounts for around 9.2 per cent of GDP – about the same contribution as manufacturing and slightly smaller than the finance industry," writes the study authors.
Researchers believe that the industry's advertising campaigns are impacting people's perceptions.
"The mining industry likes to portray itself as a big employer, a big tax payer and a big money maker for Australian shareholders. Yet the reality just doesn't match the rhetoric," said Dr Denniss, the institutes executive director.
"The mining industry's advertisements ignore the way that the mining boom is driving up the exchange rate, driving up mortgage interest rates and driving down employment in other sectors of the economy.
"It is a bit rich for former BHP Billiton chairman Don Argus to talk about declining productivity growth when an analysis of the figures actually reveals that productivity in the non-mining sectors is growing quite rapidly. The irony is that it is the rapid decline in productivity in the mining industry that is driving down the national figures," said Dr Denniss.