web analytics
The Standard
Advertising

The wage gap and the productivity lie

Written By: - Date published: 11:42 am, March 28th, 2013 - 23 comments
Categories: class war, economy, International, national, wages - Tags: , ,

National was elected on the promise to close the wage gap with Australia. It’s getting bigger – which probably has something to do with why record numbers of Kiwis are crossing the ditch. New figures yesterday continue the trend:

Income gap growing wide as the Ditch

Despite rising salaries, Kiwis’ pay packets are still well behind those of their Australian counterparts – and the gap is getting bigger.

At the end of last year the average New Zealander earned 26.3 per cent – or $12,800 – less than the average Australian, the latest Roy Morgan state of the nation report reveals. Kiwi salaries have risen from $35,000 to $48,600 since 2001, but across the Tasman incomes have increased from $38,800 to $61,400.

Evidence of the widening gap is even more pronounced among fulltime workers, with Australians earning 24.1 per cent more than fulltime workers in New Zealand – a difference that 10 years ago was only 6.6 per cent.

The number of Kiwis chasing the Australian dollar has been increasing in the same decade, a record 53,763 people leaving in the 12 months to June last year.

Great work National. Thank you John Key. Your policies, such as they are, are not the solution, they are part of the problem. And when it comes to the “captains of industry” what we get is the old productivity lie again:

Employers and Manufacturing Association spokesman Gilbert Peterson called the latest figures a “sobering reality check”. “We could do considerably more I’m sure and we need to keep working at it but we have had the global financial crisis to contend with and the earthquake in Christchurch which has been a big challenge, and of course we can do more to lift the productivity of New Zealanders …

This line is just an endless treadmill for workers – the promised higher wages are forever out of reach. Productivity has gone up and up and up – wages have not followed. There’s a long CTU report about it here, but the short version is that:

Between 1980 and 2008 (the latest data available) labour productivity grew by no less than 82 percent – while the average ordinary time real wage grew by just 18 percent.

(See also various Standard posts here, here, here.)

The way to raise wages is to have a healthy economy, a living minimum wage, and a strong union sector. The Nats have held back the first, will never deliver the second, and always work to undermine the third. Nor do we need another rerun of the productivity lie. What we need is a change of government.

23 comments on “The wage gap and the productivity lie”

  1. Enough is Enough 1

    New Zealand sucks at the moment and I hold nothing against those economic refugees who are packing their bags and few possession they have and heading to where they will be able to make a livfe for themselves and their children.

    When will New Zealand wake up and demand more from their governments. This trend has been getting worse for decades yet we continue to elect governments that have policies which force our kids overseas.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    This video, (yes, it’s the same one I posted in Open Mike), covers the productivity gains of the last thirty years and how almost all of it the went to the rich and that the rich then went on asset bubble crusades. This resulted in increased inequality, an unstable economy and the GFC but not the improved conditions that the business sector and the political parties said would happen (I was going to just say National but Labour said the same bloody thing).

  3. Poission 3

    Productivity always decrease following banking crises,and almost obvious problem.

    Why? it is the reallocation of financial resources from the productive sectors( read parts of the economy that add value ) to the unproductive sectors such as property ,land and duboius infrastructure that is in essence a financial sink ie they lock in finance into illiquid assets.

    In each of the 61 Banking crises since 1980 (yep) productivity has decreased in every domain it has occured.There is a good discussion of this in Broadbent 2012

    http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Documents/speeches/2012/speech599.pdf

    The underlying regurgitating of the productivity fallacy by these lobby groups suggest that they (and their echo chambers) are a bit thick!

    • muzza 3.1

      Someone send that to spokeman Gilbert Peterson, maybe with the instruction that he reads it, and if he can’t understand it, to consult with someone who can walk him through the basics!

  4. infused 4

    Productivity != profit. Cheers.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      The owners profits have been going up in line with productivity – the wages haven’t.

      • infused 4.1.1

        Where? My wage hasn’t increase in 3 years. My staff have.

        • McFlock 4.1.1.1

          Has the Value of your business changed in that time ?

        • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.2

          Well, you’re obviously not the people this government is governing for then even though you probably think that you are.

          BTW, a single person whinging that their profits haven’t gone up while banks and several others have doesn’t pass the evidence test.

          • infused 4.1.1.2.1

            What’s the percentage of small business in New Zealand Draco? Banks and a few other very large businesses are the only exception.

            • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.2.1.1

              Those large corporations are the ones making super-profits, draining your local community and your customers of cash. To the tune of several billion dollars a year. And then exporting that cash, typically to Australia.

            • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.2.1.2

              You’re still only one person and not all small businesses.

  5. UpandComer 5

    The meaningful measure is after tax wages, which have increased by 3% more then oz since 2009.

    The gap is being closed.

    Also I agree with Draco’s comment re wages not keeping track with productivity. I think employer’s in NZ do need to recognise productivity increases and incentivise productivity. Giving employees an option to buy shares in the company they work for at a reduced rate or the likes is a great idea.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      The meaningful measure is after tax wages, which have increased by 3% more then oz since 2009.

      Mr and Mrs Middle New Zealand: Median NZ household income falls

      I think employer’s in NZ do need to recognise productivity increases and incentivise productivity.

      There’s a couple of reasons for that:
      1.) NZ employers are stupid (there’s research around proving that but I can’t be bothered going to find it again)
      2.) Why would they pay the workers more when they can pay themselves more instead? Greed is Good don’t ya know.

      Giving employees an option to buy shares in the company they work for at a reduced rate or the likes is a great idea.

      Ah, yes, having people buy into capitalism will magically make them better off.

      • Colonial Viper 5.1.1

        Not magically, but owner-employees are the way of the future.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.1

          Cooperatives are but do you really think that an owner is going to sell voting shares to the workers? For some of them part of the reason for being in business is the power rush they get when they tell people what to do.

    • The meaningful measure is after tax wages

      No it isn’t.

      The best measure is of pre-tax wages (gross income). Taxation legitimately takes a share of the return to labour in order to benefit the overall society (that’s the only legitimacy for taxation).

      The meaningful measure has to be the gross return to labour for a couple of reasons:

      First, closing the gap by reducing tax rates would not be possible. As Bill English pointed out, most New Zealanders are paying around 17.5% in tax. Even removing all income tax for this majority would not close the gap. Further, reducing the top tax rate alone would simply ‘duke the stats’ when it comes to ‘average take home pay’. That is, bigger paypackets would get disproportionately more dollars in their pocket, increase the average disproportionately and leave everyone else potentially just as far behind Australia as ever.

      Second, for the majority of income tax payers, the amount of income tax they pay is less than the benefit they receive from overall taxation. Hence, reducing the tax take (especially at the upper ends) would simply make their after tax wages worth less because of the services that would need to be cut to afford the tax cuts, services which they would then have to pay for one way or the other. Put simply, they would be worse off materially (isn’t this what the right so often complains about? – that the higher income people are paying most tax?). This is especially so if the kinds of cuts introduced were those favoured by right wing governments (e.g., benefits, education, health).

      I know Key and English like to run this line about after tax wages being relevant to closing the gap with Australia, but that’s meaningless given that the benefits of a progressive tax system fall disproportionately on the majority of (low and middle income) people – as is, of course, the intention of a redistributive tax system.

      In addition, cutting the top tax rate (as Treasury and IRD seem keen to do) would increase inequality within New Zealand.

  6. UpandComer 6

    “Real after tax wages

  7. Colonial Viper 7

    So Telecom has to fire 1300 workers to “remain competitive”. It’ll save them $80M in wages, annually.

    And they are forecasting a reduced profit of just over $1B for 2013, once redundancy costs are taken into account.

    Labour, please come forward and criticise the idiocy of shareholder EPS driven capitalism and the insecurity it has created for NZ workers. Any time now would be fine, when convenient, maybe when your members come back from enjoying a long weekend away.

    • fender 7.1

      +1

      The greed is rampant, and taxpayers are paying for their future revenue stream infrastructure as well ffs.

    • infused 7.2

      Dude you have no idea. People at Gen-I are sitting around with fingers up their ass. They have lost so much work recently.

      So easy being an armchair warrior eh?

      • Tim 7.2.1

        “Dude you have no idea. People at Gen-I are sitting around with fingers up their ass. They have lost so much work recently.”

        Which is rather strange is it not considering DIA is a bugger’s muddle, the primitive ACC and EQC systems, and IRD?

        The funny thing is that things seemed to work when we had a GCS, a Vogel Computing Centre and a banking system that was more integrated.
        I suspect ‘corporate prestige’ and big egos have been part of the problem over the past 20-30 years.

Important links

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Novopay triumph for government
    Today the National government announced the future plans for the troubled education payroll system Novopay. The system has had a rough ride since it was implemented almost two years ago. At parliament today the Cabinet Minister for Fixing Up Really Bad...
    My Thinks | 30-07
  • Stuart’s 100 #3: Plane Tree Avenues
    Stuart Houghton’s 100 ideas for Auckland continues 3: Plane Tree Avenues Franklin Road, with its historic plane trees, is one of the most loved streets in Auckland. What if plane tree avenues defined all the major city fringe streets? This...
    Transport Blog | 30-07
  • Too Much some recent articles on Inequality
    click here for these...
    Closing the Gap | 30-07
  • From truffle to light crude; oil doesn’t come cheap
    The Governments oil salesman Simon Bridges just can’t catch a break these days. Whether it’s having to admit that he’d never even heard of NZ’s largest forest park (Victoria FP) which he’d just opened up to drillers or getting stick...
    Greenpeace NZ blog | 30-07
  • Submit on the Draft Parking Discussion Document
    Auckland Transport have had their Draft Parking Discussion Document (2mb file) out for consultation over the last couple of months, but this closes at midnight on Thursday. This covers the full range of parking issues around the city, including on-street, off-street and park...
    Transport Blog | 30-07
  • Reaching out to voters
    This is going to be the biggest grassroots campaign we’ve ever run. A couple of weeks ago I shared some of the stats from our voter outreach programme with the media. It’s campaign activity that’s often hidden from view, but...
    Labour campaign | 30-07
  • Scrapped
    Wellington City Council has scrapped its "alternative giving" campaign. Good. As the article notes, the campaign was an expensive failure, with $40,000 spent to raise just $3,500 for the homeless. But despite that, its architects are still trying to pretend...
    No Right Turn | 30-07
  • Following in illustrious footsteps
    Gaylene Nepia is campaign manager for both the national Māori campaign and for her brother Adrian Rurawhe - Labour’s candidate for the Te Tai Hauāuru electorate. Mr Rurawhe and Mrs Nepia are great grandchildren of Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana, founder of the...
    Labour campaign | 30-07
  • Seeing life through a Maori lens
    Meka Whaitiri, MP for Ikaroa-Rawhiti, is contesting the seat for the first time at a general election. She entered Parliament through a by-election in June last year, following the death of her predecessor Parekura Horomia....
    Labour campaign | 30-07
  • Bribery
    So, it turns out that the government blew $240,000 on hosting eleven oil company executives for a four-day junket during the 2011 rugby world cup. In Parliament today Energy Minister Simon Bridges admitted that $22,000 of that spending was on...
    No Right Turn | 30-07
  • All other things being equal… except they aren’t
    US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts likes to say that “the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race", a sentiment ACT leader Jamie Whyte would applaud going by...
    Pundit | 30-07
  • Celebrating a great talent pool
    I've been an MP since the 1996 election, first for Te Tai Hauauru and then for Tainui, which became Hauraki-Waikato after boundary changes. I'm seeing a real energy around Labour among Māori. The talent pool that Labour is fielding in both...
    Labour campaign | 30-07
  • Labour on wages
    Great to see positive, progressive policy from Labour on wages today. The core points are: Increase the minimum wage by $2 an hour in our first year, to $15 an hour in our first hundred days in government, and increased...
    Polity | 30-07
  • Inequality: Balancing the Extremes from Credit Suisse Research Institute
    click here for this youtube clip...
    Closing the Gap | 30-07
  • Labours policies a step change for working people
    “After six long years of working life getting tougher in New Zealand workers have been given a real choice today with the announcement of Labours Industrial Relations policy package.” CTU President Helen Kelly said...
    CTU | 30-07
  • Inequality and Its Consequences Stiglitz and Feldstein
    click here for this youtube discusioon...
    Closing the Gap | 30-07
  • Australia’s corruption cover-up
    Wikileaks strikes again:A sweeping gagging order issued in Australia to block reporting of any bribery allegations involving several international political leaders in the region has been exposed by WikiLeaks. The prohibition emerged from a criminal case in the Australian courts...
    No Right Turn | 30-07
  • A bottom-up plan for inequality
    Labour released its "work and wages" policy today. The headlines? Abolishing the 90-day law and increasing the minimum wage by $2 to $16.25 an hour by April 2015. Those are fairly obvious ways of delivering to their core constituency, but...
    No Right Turn | 30-07
  • World News Brief, Wednesday July 30
    Top of the AgendaU.S., EU to Toughen Sanctions on Russia...
    Pundit | 30-07
  • Where are Labour’s billboards?
    On Sunday, I drove from Gisborne to Katikati, through Opotiki, Te Puke and Tauranga. Yesterday afternoon/evening, I made the return journey. One thing I noticed is that National Party billboards popped up regularly, mixtures of individual candidates’ billboards (simply stating...
    Occasionally erudite | 30-07
  • “Improving”
    End-of-Year process positive for Novopay, Steven Joyce, 17 January 2014:Minister Responsible for Novopay Steven Joyce says a 100 per cent completion rate for schools involved in the End-of-Year process and an accompanying low error rate are tributes to the hard...
    No Right Turn | 30-07
  • Farmers don’t set out to pollute our rivers
    It can be easy to vilify farmers. But no farmer sets out to create pollution, and the evidence suggests that many farmers are either already acting responsibly or that they are lifting their game. In particular, dairy farmers are acting....
    Gareth’s World | 30-07
  • Guide to economic evaluation part 3: What is agglomeration?
    Debates over major transport investments often get caught up in arguments over benefit-cost ratios, or BCRs. In recent years, projects such as the Transmission Gully and Puhoi to Warkworth motorways and the City Rail Link have been criticised for their...
    Transport Blog | 30-07
  • Where to now for Colin and the Conservatives?
    It’s (almost*) official – there’s no deal for Colin Craig in East Coast Bays. Murray McCully will not be knifed, thrown under a bus or given concrete shoes to go swimming in. Given that Mr Craig had already accepted he...
    Occasionally erudite | 29-07
  • Real men say sorry
    There are a couple of universal truths that all men should be aware of. Firstly, it takes a bigger man to walk away. Of course men can be accused of being weak if they don't confront their problems with violence,...
    The Jackal | 29-07
  • Why my children took part in a playful protest against LEGO’s partner...