More unemployed but more employed too

Written By: - Date published: 1:08 pm, November 6th, 2008 - 14 comments
Categories: economy, election 2008, workers' rights - Tags:

Unemployment has risen to 4.2%, the first time in four years it has topped 4%.

That’s lower than the experts expected, they thought the rate would blow out to 4.5% or more. But that’s the power of a full employment policy. Because we’ve had such low unemployment for so long, employers are reluctant to lay off staff or cut wages during a lean period. The greatest achievement of the Labour-led governments to date has been getting unemployment down.

We also have to understand what ‘unemployment is 4.2% means’. It means that of the adults who say they are in work or looking for work, 4.2% don’t have work. So, there’s another variable at play, not just the number of jobs but how many adults are participating in the work-force. Because labour-force participation changes, it is possible for employment and unemployment to grow at the same time if labour-force participation grows. That’s what happened last quarter. Labour-force participation rose from 68.6% to 68.7%. The number of employed people rose 2,000 (0.1%) to 2,172,000 while the number of unemployed rose 6,000 (6.3%) to 94,000. There are 22,000 more jobs now than there were last year.

The problem is that our economy is no longer adding jobs fast enough to get all new members of the workforce into work. That’s a bad thing but at least our economy is not yet shedding jobs.

That’s unlikely to continue to be the case. The mess the financiers have made of the global economy will create damage here, and there will come a time when the number of jobs starts to fall. And that’s why it’s good to see Labour and its allies focussing on policies to create more worthwhile jobs. As Clark said last night, their economic stimulus package is about “jobs, jobs, jobs”.

14 comments on “More unemployed but more employed too”

  1. milo 1

    I agree, this is a great achievement of Labour’s. Also, I think these figures along with some others, show that there are a few signs of life in the New Zealand economy.

  2. Janice 2

    Has no-one heard of the Maori Party on this site? I would like to see a few articles devoted to this party so people can have their say about how they see the Maori Party benefiting from a powhiri with Labour post election and/or, the various problems the Maori Party might encounter aligning themselves to National. 🙂

    [read our maori party archieve. SP]

  3. Janice 3

    Further to the above post, there is not even a reference to the Maori Party on this site, from what I can see of your links to other parties. Given the Maori Party is to the left of Labour and the Greens, how does this omission sit with other leftists?

    It could be fatal come election day if the centre-left does not look behind the invisible curtain in this county and see Maori people as politically active but ignored by the mainstream leftist parties, until after the elections.

    Someone said on the BBC last night that McCain and Palin represented the white right vote while Barack Obama represented a multiracial, multiethnic vote which included the indigenous American-Indian population, Asians, Afro_americans, Pacific peoples

    I would like to see the NZ Labour Party take on board that same inclusiveness in a very meaningful way……… from the grassroots up!

    [lprent: The major party logo’s are on the right down towards the bottom. They click through to the relevant sites. The Maori party is also on the sublist of progressive party logos and links that show in the subpages (click on links in the standard logo at the top).

    This site has bugger all to do with the NZLP apart from that I’m a member, as are some (but probably not a majority) of the post authors. Read the About. I pay for it and run the mechanics. The talented ones are the post writers. This is a grassroots site, just better technically run (most of the time) than most because I insist on it]

  4. Dan 4

    Statistics NZ in fact says that the number of employed rose by 3000 in the last quarter, rather than the 2000 jobs you quote.

  5. Ianmac 5

    Janice On my computer I see a link to the Maori Party bottom right.

  6. roger nome 6

    Anyone want to join the “fuck you paul henery” facebook group can do so here:


  7. Tripod 7

    “Given the Maori Party is to the left of Labour and the Greens” – I don’t agree with that at all. The Maori Party supports work for the dole schemes, it initially supported the 90 day no rights bill and has even indicated it might go into coalition with National. It also wants to “Incentivise small businesses to grow, by reducing unnecessary compliance costs” advocates for a reduction in business tax for certain businesses and a ‘simplfication’ of employment law. It is not a left wing party.

  8. Janice 8

    Thanks Lanmac, I see it now but not exactly prominent is it? I am not trying to criticise a very worthwhile site you understand but asking that you try to become more inclusive, in keeping with politics that work.

    Tripod, Maori people vote left almost exclusively. If the Maori Party are pushed to aligning themselves to the right, because they can find no basis of relationship to the left, whose fault is that?

    The percentage of young Maori unemployed is greater than the average. The number of young Maori leaving school without qualifications is far greater than the national average. The percentage of Maori in prison is far greater than the national average.

    If the grassroots of Labour/ Progressive/ Greens does not address these issues as essential affirmative actions, then who will? Tariana Turia as I understand it, wants government jobs created for young Maori which does not mean “work for the dole”. That is your interpretation. She means affirmative action jobs paying a standard living wage, not a dole. Jim Anderton drove through the last tax cut to certain business in keeping with a growth strategy for an export driven economy. He also takes ( probably quite rightly ) credit for a large reduction in unemployment in this country. I am not sure what simplification in the employment law, means. But I am pleased you are willing to talk about it and wonder if perhaps you can explain what it means.

  9. Janice 9

    PS Tripod. I laughed at your reaction to the Maori Party wanting a reduction in compliance costs for small business. I am not Maori but I want to see a “removal” of compliance costs for small businesses. I see this measure as helpful to underpaid, overworked lefties taking over the means of production. 🙂

  10. Tripod 10

    Janice – fair enough if you support the Maori Party, I just don’t think it’s correct to say they’re to the left of Labour or the Greens (although it wouldn’t be too hard to be to the left of Labour at the moment). To be honest I don’t think some of the Green party’s policies are too left wing either. I like a lot of the Maori Party’s policies and I think some of their MPs have integrity, but I don’t like their track record in other areas.

    I think there is a bit of a left / right division in the Maori Party and I seem to remember Tariana Turia saying she didn’t really view the Maori Party as necessarily left or right but more an indigenous party which didn’t identify with the traditional left/right dichotomy of Western politics, which is a fair answer.

    I accept that Maori are disproportionately underpaid, but I am nervous about the Maori Party’s stance on some employment laws (such as their initial support for the 90 day bill). An erosion of work rights is probably the worst thing that could happen for low-paid workers, which includes a lot of Maori. I don’t know what a ‘simplification’ of employment laws means exactly but that almost invariably means less regulation, for example National says it wants to ‘simplify’ the Holidays Act, which will mean in essence workers get paid less for public holidays and so on.

  11. lprent 11

    Janice: It is about as prominent as all of the other party sites, say for instance the NZLP is exactly the same size. It is at the top because… Well, it is my favourite party and I pay for this place. So the order is pretty much my order of preference with Labour top, National bottom, and the other parties between

    Incidentally, I’ve wanted to help set up a wide spectrum Maori blog site. My cousin was asking about one because she wanted to point her boys in that direction (she is in aussie). Same with my sisters partners boys. There seems to be a bit of a dearth long-lived Maori orientated blogs on the net.

    Oh well, a project for after the election

  12. Janice 12

    Tripod: the point I am trying to make ( very badly obviously) is that the grassroots of the left including many of the activists who subscribe to this site fail to highlight or debate Maori Party issues. You are the first that I have read who put forward Maori Party views on some policies. There are many more of their views which do have a synergy with those of the left leaning bloc. For example their environmental policies are similar to Greens They have views similar to Labour and Progressives in terms of the education and health for the young and care of the elderly. They want similar things to Labour, Greens, Progressives in Health. I am not fazed by by their views on employment law which is probably being misinterpreted deliberately by our notoriously yellow pack propagandist media. What the Maori Party are saying which is different is that they want a Treaty based relationship on policy. What on earth does that mean? I think it means more affirmative action but could be quite wrong. What do others think a treaty based relationship means a: with other parties b: in legislation?

  13. dave 13

    what ‘unemployment is 4.2% means’. It means that of the adults who say they are in work…..4.2% don’t have work

    Keh? Run that past me again?

    So, I get surveyed, and say I tell them I have work, but I dont have work, how do surveyors know that I don’t work, when they have been told a lie -that I do work, even though I don’t. Am I part of the unemployed or the employed?

    [if you cut out half the definition it won’t make sense. SP]

  14. dave 14

    There are 22,000 more jobs now than there were last year.
    But 22,000 extra aren’t filling these those jobs.

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