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It’s the seasons, stupid

Written By: - Date published: 10:11 am, November 23rd, 2009 - 40 comments
Categories: national/act government, unemployment - Tags:

Over the last week or so, I’ve heard John Key, Bill English, and Paula Bennett all make self-congratulatory references to the number of people receiving the unemployment benefit decreasing in October. That sounded weird to me. No-one seriously thinks unemployment has stopped increasing.

MSD doesn’t regularly release the month by month data but I eventually managed to get hold of it, and this is what I found.

dole 1999-09

See how within the overall trend there’s a regular peak every December to February, a dip, another bump from June to September, and another little dip in October and November before Christmas.

dole by monthIn nine of the ten years between 1999 and 2008, the number of people on the unemployment benefit fell between September and October. The average drop is 2.7%, the drop from this September to October was 1.1% (600).

As Fran O’Sullivan said last week “Bennett [is] too busy puffing her own achievements” to actually do anything about unemployment. What these stats show is that even the achievements she claims are illusory.

The small drop in people on the dole last month is a normal part of a seasonal pattern, nothing for the government to skite about. But that’s this government all over, isn’t it? All skite and no substance.

Meanwhile, 250,000 jobless Kiwis wait for some leadership from this do-nothing government.

40 comments on “It’s the seasons, stupid”

  1. Razorlight 1

    Why are the 250000 unemployed people in this country waiting for the government to help them.

    Are they unable to help themselves?

    • Daveo 1.1

      Um, no. They don’t have jobs and at the moment our capitalist economic system is not creating jobs, in fact it’s destroying them.

      Do you not know what a recession is? Or do you think it’s just when everyone decides all of a sudden to be lazy and stop working so hard?

    • snoozer 1.2

      you’re a dork razorlight. tens of thousands of jobs have disappeared under National. They have a responsiblity to counter the recession with job creation, this is the kind of stuff we have governments for. They’ve utterly failed to do it, even though they claim they have.

      • Razorlight 1.2.1

        i’m a dork…thank you that is a helpful statement.

        tens of millions of jobs have dissapeared throughout the world during this recession and continue to dissapear. This is in spite of the unprecednted interventions in the US and UK

        Please tell me how the Nats are responsible for NZ job losses and specifically what they should be doing to create jobs….

        anything similar to the Brown or Obama approaches is not an option as they clearly are not working

        • Zaphod Beeblebrox 1.2.1.1

          Have you compared the Oz and NZ figures lately?

          • Razorlight 1.2.1.1.1

            I am not the one complaining about the NZ figures

            It is very easy to say things are going wrong here. It is not rocket science to suggest things could be better.

            Noone has come up with a credible solution that creates jobs so it is noncence to blame the government for the problems that predate them being sworn in

            • Bored 1.2.1.1.1.1

              Hi Razorlight, not very nice to be called a dork, but you are being a little provocative in asking the unemployed to help themselves. If this is the case and you have not considered the whole gamut of reasons why the rank and file of the population don’t convert themselves into capitalists and bosses I would have to suggest that Razorlight is the wrong name for you. Try Dimbulb or Flatbattery.

            • Tigger 1.2.1.1.1.2

              Razorlight – “Please tell me how the Nats are responsible for NZ job losses and specifically what they should be doing to create jobs .”

              Actually, that last bit is the government’s responsibility…and they’re not taking responsibility for it.

        • Roger Anderson 1.2.1.2

          No-one is saying the Nats are responsible, what we are saying is that they have no plan or direction at best, and at worst they don’t care. Either way, they said that they would get us out of this recession when they really have no idea how.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 1.3

      Are you suggesting they migrate to Australia which has government’s who do care?

  2. Brett 2

    Apart from creating 250,000 public service jobs, what sort of ideas do you guys have for stimulating the economy and getting the unemployed back to work?

    • snoozer 2.1

      A proper home insulation scheme, not National’s half-hearted one. A reforestation programme. Public transport investment (more job intense than roading).

      Notice how all these are also good for the environment?

      Check out the Greens’ Green New Deal. 40,000-odd jobs for a couple of billion, all on things that also help the environment.

      Make no mistake – if we had a Labour/Green government, this is the kind of things we would be doing. The government wouldn’t be sitting on its arse while our unemployment rises above Australia’s, having started 1% below it.

      • Galeandra 2.1.1

        No no no Snoozer wake up …. reforestation under EST (if it stays alive, poor misbegotten foetus) belongs to iwi and Overseas-corp. … Minister Smith said so today.

  3. roger nome 3

    Razor:

    Unemployment is a lagging indicator. ‘Nuff said?

    People have voted in overwhelming majority (everyone who didn’t vote libz and ACT) for a welfare state. If you don’t like it you can always increase our average IQ and leave.

    • Razorlight 3.1

      Roger

      I live in London. A city in the country that thinks that printing money and pouring it into the economy will fix unemployment and other economic problems. A country that thinks that state intervention will fix everything. But guess what…it isnt.

      So tell me what National should be doing to fix the problems that originate from a time when two people named Helen and Michael were in charge of things.

      It is a question that I can’t answer and quite obviously none of you can either

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 3.1.1

        How about encouraging the tradable part of the economy and stop allowing the tax system to prop up the non tradable (mainly property) segment of our economy?

        Key has virtually already ruled out property stamp duties CGT and does not seem keen on reducing negative gearing, so its safe to say we will get more of the same.

        Meanwhile speculative capital pours into NZ for totally non productive purposes which causes a high NZ dollar which is killing our exporters and will likely lead to higher interest rates down the track.

        I’m not defending Labour’s record on this either, though at least they seem interested in tackling it now, whilst the government seems more interested in propping up property investors.

      • Zorr 3.1.2

        “A country that thinks that state intervention will fix everything.” – I call bullshit on this.

  4. This is unfair. You are using facts and evidence to undermine spin and this current Government is not equipped to deal with issues in this way …

  5. roger nome 5

    Razor:

    Are you being deliberately dense, or does it just come natural. You can’t prove that the packages aren’t working, because the money takes a while to work through the systems. In a recession bosses will pump the money into capital and debt reduction before hiring workers, because they’re generally cautious. That said, both of those things have huge benefits to the economy in the long term.

    • Razorlight 5.1

      Mr Nome, you have told me Unemployment is a lagging indicator.

      Is it lagging from the failed policies of the previous government or the policies of the current government.

      Where is the lag?

      • snoozer 5.1.1

        Razor – it was Key that called unemployment a “lagging indicator” in that it continues to rise after GDP has stopeed falling. Roger was making a pejorative reference to Key’s callous attitude towards those who lose their jobs.

      • roger nome 5.1.2

        Razor – i’m still not any closer to figuring out which one it is. Is it deliberate, or does it come natural like?

  6. Craig Glen Eden 6

    So Razor whats the measure for it hasnt worked. If Obama had not bailed out the Banks and others what do you think would have happened to the worlds economy and peoples jobs.

    What could have National done? Well for a start they could have continued to employ the public servants that they sacked.
    They could fund research and development and encourage people to up skill with education. They could review the role that the reserve bank is playing and they could make sure the Banks in NZ passed on all the ocr reductions to mortgage holders. They could cut taxes because before the election cutting taxes ( private and Company) was the answer to all our economic woes ( according to National).

    National ministers could show some restraint ( due to tough economic times) and actually pay for their own partners when they travel overseas like some bloke called Donkey said was going to happen. They could not sit under urgency every second week and that would save money.
    Just a few things that could be done Razor

  7. Bored 7

    I see very little merit in debating the merits of Labour or Nacts record on unemployment. Both are parties to the “consensus’ of the last 25 years on the purity of monetary policy, the freeing of shackles around global capital etc etc. Neither party during that timeframe seriously challenged the conventional laissez faire wisdom on economics which has predictably eventuated in the scenario of huge growth in unemployment at the end of the long boom. Victimising Bennett is akin to whipping a nag in a race that requires a thoroughbred, even if she had the intellectual horse power she would be shackled by reins of Nacts hands off economic agenda.

    It might behove the left in general to reach a consensus that rejects the flow of capital and industry to where ever it can exploit the local condition best rather than accommodating this tendency as “unavoidable’. The alternative is that we become increasingly impoverished whilst we remain spectators to the growth of manufacturing in China and India. The question for them is will they be as myopic as us and allow their industries to then move off to another impoverished no rules location? I doubt it.

  8. ben 8

    Total number of people recieving welfare, dole or not, Marty? They’re taxpayer funded transfers whatever the label you put on it.

    Upwards sloping line, anyone?

  9. tsmithfield 9

    The reason we have high unemployment here is that our cost of labour is relatively expensive compared to the rest of the world. Even more so in the US etc where unemployment rates are even higher.

    • Bright Red 9.1

      what about Norway? High wages and 3% unemployment.

      In fact, we have low wages and its a big problem because businesses treat labour as disposable and don’t bother to invest in upsilling and capital.

      are you really suggesting tsmithfield, that if we want to become a wealthier country we need lower wages?

      • tsmithfield 9.1.1

        Bright Red “are you really suggesting tsmithfield, that if we want to become a wealthier country we need lower wages?”

        No. The problem with NZ, the US etc is that many of the low paid, factory, manufacturing type jobs are disappearing to China, Mexico etc where the labour rate for this type of work is much lower. Look at Fisher & Paykel as an example. Our clothing industry here in NZ has all but disappeared over the last two decades as has the shoe manufacture industry. We just had news that the Bridgestone factory in closing here in Christchurch. The trend will continue.

        In the future we are going to need to focus on our strengths, which is food, tourism, and oil/mineral resources if we are to drive up our standard of living.

  10. Bill 10

    Seasons.

    Now there’s a term that may well be a quaint term from yesteryear in the not to distant. You can picture it, can’t you? You as an old codger reminiscing on disappeared phenomena like autumn…spring…winter… summer… and the young uns just looking at you all blank but indulgently like you might be a wee bit senile now.

    Back to the present.

    We either save capitalism and wave goodbye to the future or dump all this growth and profit nonsense and give ourselves some kind of odds going forwards.

    So what to do with unemployment?

    Putting everyone back into traditional jobs will relieve individual suffering in the short term, but long term….?

    Let the unemployed be a permanent underclass with zero hope in a world of shrunken capitalist engagement/participation….a 20/80 society where 20% are engaged and catered to?

    I understand why unemployment in the current context is really bad. But I also understand (and I suspect many others here do too) that the context we operate within and that shapes our perceptions can only be maintained at the cost of more or less everything else around us as well as finally, us too….or many of us.

    If you know that or are aware of it to any degree then it is your imperative to challenge and change the context we act out our lives within. There really is no point bemoaning unemployment and calling for better employment policies if the definitions of, and context where, employment and unemployment unfolds remains in place.

    Far more responsible to bemoan the cultural, institutional and economic disadvantages that are sheeted home to the unemployed and in doing so begin one of many necessary starts to getting our collective arse out of this mess….then you just might get to sit as an old codger and skite that the summers were so much better in the ‘good old days’.

    Rant ends.

    • Bored 10.1

      Good points Bill, the debate on the details of current unemployment really resembles Titanic deck chairs shuffling. It is frightening that with sufficient substantiated evidence of forthcoming events such as global warming, energy crisis, eco catastrophe etc that there is all this bickering over how to breathe life into the corpse of globalised materialism. And who is to blame, who gives?

  11. George D 11

    Don’t confuse dole numbers with the number of people unemployed. Because of the significant difficulty in getting the dole and its poverty allowance level, most unemployed people no longer get the dole. Labour liked this, for obvious reasons.

    There are currently 250,000 unemployed, and 60,000 receiving the dole.

  12. prism 12

    The Jobs Letter (stopped in 2006) used to give really good background on employment matters. Any chance that it could be reinstated?

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