This graph shows the number of people employed in New Zealand, and employment would have been had the number of people with a job as a portion of the working-age population had remained steady at 76% as it was before 1987. Look what happened during the rightwing economic revolution from 1987 to 1999 (when National was kicked out). Employment not only didn’t keep up with the growing population, the number of people with jobs actually decreased. Once Labour got to power, the level of employment started growing rapidly, making up for lost ground. Things are now back to how they used to be.
Look at that employment gap, from 1987 to 2003, between the number of people with jobs and the number who could have been working. That’s hundreds of thousands of people that the Right chucked on the scrapheap. Over those years, a total of two million person-years of employment were lost; that’s as if everyone in New Zealand was out of work for a year.
No wonder we started to fall behind in the 1990s, we were letting our best assets, our people, go to waste while National and its mates split up and sold off our major companies to asset-strippers. Two million person-years of work wasted when they could have been building roads, railways, better housing, hospitals, or working as medical staff, teachers, working to create a better, more productive New Zealand. Worse, rather than being employed people were forced to live on benefits, some turned to crime; families suffered.
Too much of our potential was wasted under National in the 1990s. We can’t let that happen again.