Paula Bennett and John Key have been, once again, prematurely popping the bottle of champagne to celebrate the end of rising unemployment.
In the face of the shocking 7.3% unemployment rate announced on Thursday, the pair responded by saying ‘ah, but that was December quarter things are better now.’ They pointed to the number of people on the dole. Apparently, at the end of January that stood at 68,369 (up 185% since they came to power) and this they said was good news. Because the increase from December to January was only 1,850 – 100 per working day – or 3%, whereas the increase last year was 12%. Smaller increase, things are looking up!
But last year is a really really dumb comparison – it was the height of the global crisis. Over the previous nine years (Dec 1999-Jan 2008) on average numbers fell 1% between December and January. That’s the normal seasonal trend, and we’re not following in. In fact, we’re heading in the opposite direction.
So, no Paula, no John, that’s not good news, it’s bloody awful news. When we would normally expect dole numbers to drop 1%, they’ve risen 3%. It is an early indicator that unemployment will increase again in the March quarter.
The weird thing is the Key Government actually seems to be taken in by their own spin. They have repeatedly declared victory, been shown to be out of touch when things get worse, only to declare victory all over again. Their credibility on delivering for New Zealanders is now totally shot.