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Hard times & demographics

Written By: - Date published: 10:57 am, November 9th, 2012 - 13 comments
Categories: activism, housing, jobs, mana, unemployment - Tags: , ,

The crises in housing and unemployment are hitting some demographic groups harder than others.  There are worrying trends of increasing marginalisation and struggle for some demographic groups. Meanwhile other groups that were previously less vulnerable, are struggling.  There has been a significant worsening in employment for men, which probably is due to there being fewer secure, well-paid, full time jobs available.

At the same time, the struggle over affordable housing, and the dismantling of state housing, seems to be impacting most on the high proportion of women, Maori and Pasifika people that are on low incomes.

A closer look at the latest Household Labour Force Survey (pdf) shows some worrying underlying trends.  In recent quarters women have had a higher increase in their unemployment rate.  In the September Quarter, while there was a rise in unemployment for both men and women, the biggest rise in unemployment was amongst men, with self-employed men being particularly hard hit.

Most of this increase came from the number of unemployed men, which rose 10,000 (up 12.2 percent) to 91,000. The number of unemployed women rose 3,000 (up 3.6 percent) to 84,000.

According to statistics that are not seasonally adjusted, older people have also been hit hardest, with an increase in unemployment amongst those aged 50-54 (up 4,000) and 60-64 (up 3000). There are also worsening trends in employment for 45-49 year olds.

This does not mean good news for young people, just that their unemployment statistics have remained flat over the last quarter.  However, there has been a slight increase in the unemployment (or NEET*) rate amongst women (*Not in Employment Education or Training).

Auckland has been quite hard hit by the increase in unemployment, especially amongst men.  In contrast there was a decrease in unemployment and rise in employment in Canterbur.  This was partly due gender differences in choice of jobs. In Canterbury,

The total increase in employment reflected a statistically significant 9,000 rise in the professional scientific, technical services, administrative, and support services industry group. Most of this rise was from the professional, scientific, and technical services industries.

The number of men and women employed in Canterbury both increased. For women the rise in employment was mostly in the professional, scientific, technical services, administrative, and support services industry group. For men the rise in employment was in that industry group, but also in the construction industry.

In general, the wholesale industry lost 12,700 workers (male and female) over the year. Women’s employment increased significantly in the retail trade, and also in accomodation and food service indusutries.

Women tend to do more part time, casual and low paid work than men.  So a shift towards worsening employment statistics for men, probably is a result of a decrease in well-paid, full-time work. The labour force participation rate (that includes employed and unemployed people) rose, with most of this being due to more women looking for work. This is probably a reflection of the fact that more households are struggling to make ends meet.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the impact of the decrease in the amount of affordable housing.  Part of the struggle around this, is to stop the government removing state housing, and/or shifting state housing to marginal and undesirable areas.  Last night a group (largely made up of women) continued their protest against the removal of state housing in Glen Innes, undeterred by the wet weather.  These protesters are staunch, and the indication is that they include a significant proportion of women, Maori and Pasifika people:

Many were back, including Maxine Ngata who claimed she was helping move an elderly woman out of the way when she was arrested.

“An officer hooked his arm around my neck from behind but I managed to get away. I ran up the road and he shouted to two men to ‘get her’.

“My arm was twisted behind my back, they tried to push me to the ground but couldn’t.”

She’s upset that her home will be taken from underneath her family, which will move to Henderson.

“My dad’s been a minister at the Tongan Methodist Church for 26 years. He was basically told to find another one in Henderson.”

This is probably why the Mana Party is at the forefront of this struggle.  Prior to last night’s protest they had called for a media presence to ensure against police brutality.

The overall employment statistics are an indication of the worsening of harsh living conditions for many.  A close look at the statistics shows which groups are doing it the toughest. The worsening employment situation for men, indicates more people that were previously unaffected, are now facing an insecure existence.


13 comments on “Hard times & demographics”

  1. Yep, don’t believe National when it tells us we are some place isolated from the rest of the world, Europe and America are suffering just as New Zealanders are. National supporters aren’t representative of the majority of New Zealanders (many of them like to pretend that every problem is due to the ‘left wing conspiracy’ to ‘steal their wealth’). There is no reason why we shouldn’t draw comparisons with our situation and that of America and Europe as New Zealanders are poor, homeless, unemployed and struggling to build lives for themselves.

  2. Treetop 2

    Dense housing like in a retirement village is going to create a lot of social problems, thin walls (where a conversation or the TV/stereo is heard), slamming doors and children playing outside making just a bit of noise, or pets (barking dogs or cats using the neighbours garden).

    National’s state/social housing policy is already a failure because there is a difference between the life style of retired people and families with children.

    Hone this morning on RNZ said that building 20,000 state homes in time would be paid for by those renting them and there would also be skilled training jobs. To fund this, Hone said to reverse the tax cuts.

    More on housing on insight, RNZ on Sunday morning at 8 am repeated on Monday night at 7.30 pm.

    • aerobubble 2.1

      Poor design now is causing huge social problems, leak homes, cross lease that neighbors believe own the shared driveway outright, boyracers who belive oil will never run out…. Houses now are just souped up sheds and have no double glazing, or even reconcilable noise reduction features.
      And then don’t get me started about the building industry, designing homes with such poor materials that cost too much. NZ is time honored for its ability to be the market for all the failed products that did not sell overseas, amongst them noisy exhausts.

  3. muzza 3

    Its going along well isn’t it, the good ship SS-NZ

    So the next step will be the further rise in ..

    1: Poverty, including children
    2: Abuse (probably why they removed domestic abuse from the stats)
    3: Crime (gotta live somehow)
    4: Suicides, death and so on…

    Yup, this is the result of policies, which I refer to as genocidal. Some say its too strong a word, but it is trageted attacks on groups (many) of people, resulting in deaths for sure!

    Tick tock!

  4. Michael 4

    Alienation of the proletariat from the political process probably explains Labour’s strategy, too. Why bother with policies aiming at social justice when the people who benefit from those policies no longer vote? From that perspective, Labour’s actions make political sense, even if they are morally repugnant.

    • karol 4.1

      Well, maybe as Cunliffe says, it’s time to change from the third way policies of the last few decades – ones that were an attempt to adapt to the neoliberal triumphalism of that period need to be laid to rest, & new ones developed.

      Cunliffe believes a new epoch is now upon us and that the left will no longer play second fiddle to the right as it has these past three decades. “The left of politics had to really adapt. You got Clinton’s Democrats. You got Blair’s Third Way, which to some extent had to accommodate and triangulate on triumphal markets and the Washington Consensus, and then the great crash of ’08-’09 happened and I reckon – we reckon – that that changes things again,” he says. “That gives not only the necessity but the freedom for us to ask big questions about do those policy settings, pre-crash, fit our people well for the future? And the answer in many cases is no.”

      But Mana is really leading the way to engage the disenfranchised politically.  There certainly are low income women, Maori and Pasifika people protesting alonng side Mana on Housing and employment issues.  It’s just that they are a minority at the moment.
      But we shouldn’t be waiting for political parties to lead the way.  It needs to be a flax roots revivial of political engagement.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2


      Labour are as much about propping up the failed socio-economic system of capitalism as National are and that requires ignoring the poverty, social exclusion and injustice that is systemic of capitalism.

      • kiwicommie 4.2.1

        Depends, some in Labour generally wouldn’t stand out if they were in the National party but you can’t expect the 80s-90s era of politicians that supported the radical Rogernomics of the time to adopt new economics and ideas. Lots of people seem to think that politicians can just pick up new policies and ideas, but politicians are human and can have the same flaws i.e. ideological narrow-mindedness and closed-mindedness. Unfortunately we are just going to have to wait for some of that generation to kick the bucket.

  5. fatty 5

    “According to statistics that are not seasonally adjusted, older people have also been hit hardest, with an increase in unemployment amongst those aged 50-54 (up 4,000) and 60-64 (up 3000). There are also worsening trends in employment for 45-49 year olds.”

    The other problem associated with this is that National have cut student loans to over 55 years (I think). This contrasts with the term ’employability’ which has been pushed on us under third way ideology. Employability requires upskilling and education at all stages of life, but this ‘opportunity’ (another third way myth) does not exist for many older people. So we have an education/employment system that creates exclusion, rather than ‘inclusion’ (…another third way term).
    Interestingly, employability, opportunity and inclusion all existed in 2003 under third way when the economy was humming along, but not anymore. Now we have unemployable, no opportunity and exclusion. Its difficult to see how third way offers protection to the volatility of capitalism.
    I have no idea why student loans we cut for over 55 year olds, but then again, the student loan scheme has never been about logic. The age of 55 is quite a good time to study, particularly within an occupation like social work. Life experience, fewer personal responsibilities such as family (maybe), and an increase of social awareness. In addition, if a person graduated at 58 with a social work degree, they would have 8 years of work before hitting retirement age, and most social workers only last about 5 years in the occupation. Plus, most baby-boomers that are getting to retirement age have no intention of retiring, and judging by the cost of living, often not the means. Also part-time social workers are great, its not a job that require full time commitment. Same with a lot of other jobs in the caring industry.

  6. xtasy 6

    It is ALL bad, Karol, and I am a “white” poor, I have never been true “middle class”, due to my particular circumstances and also convictions. The “middle class” to a fair degree would despise me as a “failed person”, for whatever reason. I am thoug WHITE and down there. There are more of us too. So I have all sympathy for Maori, Pacific people and others, but this is not just about ethnic issues, it goes deeper. It is about disowning and discriminating against a wider sector of society, that does “not meet demands” of a hyper commercialised “on call” labour market. I have witnessed how they send “troops” around warehouses and supermarkets to stock shelves, to do other odd jobs on an “on call” hourly rate, that nobody can live off.

    That is the same as socialising debt due to the global financial crisis. This is “socialising” labour costs, and most employers do it. When the costs though get “too high”, they start moaning and complaining about “benefit costs”, which the stat pays to afford their unethical out-sourcing of costs.

    So you cannot win with such rules and conditions, where the business and employer sectors use the state and collective power of the tax-payer to cover their down times and afford themselves better profits.

    There must be an end to such methods and philosophies, same as selling out to wrong over seas scavenger investors and FTAs that benefit others, rather than NZ and workers here. This country has been sold out for too long, and it is time people wake up and take decisive action.

    Why for decades did socially functioning societies in Scandinavia, Central Europe and also other places do well for decades, also developing and improving living standards? Do not tell me the lie of indebtedness, which has recently been re-invented by the new right economists, who ignore that even Japan manages somehow on huge debt. Propaganda is a large part of what you get fed through the news dayly. Watch out and read alternative info, to keep sanity and objectivity.

    • rosy 6.1

      +1 on that xtasy. Well said.

    • karol 6.2

      It is pretty depressing, xtasy.  But my view is to keep on trying to be critical of the media and, as you say, read alternatives to the MSM.  The media is slowly turning against this government, but it is also very critical of someone like Cunliffe who aims to turn, just a little bit, away from the dominant neoliberal values.
      I do sense a bit of a new change coming, but it may be too little, too late.  We shall see.

  7. Kiws 7

    Sick of the so-called national supporters!they can`t even represent the majority of kiwis at all. Why does somebody always like to separate the group in to “middle class”,”poor”, even the colors of the skin. That`s really nonsense。

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