Can someone at MSD please sit Paula Bennett down and explain to her what a season is? Our hapless Minister for Social Services is once again claiming victory over rising unemployment because of the seasonal drop in unemployment numbers.
Bennett says that the number on the dole fell by 4,224 (6.2%) last month and that that’s a great achievement. Sorry, I wish it was but it isn’t.
It’s seasonal variation and it’s actually a small reduction. The average decrease from January to February under Labour was 7,300 (8.0%).
Couple this smaller than usual fall with the larger than usual rise in dole numbers in December (a mammoth 13% jump compared to an average of 9%) and you can see that the underlying trend isn’t in the right direction. We’re certainly past the worst of it, where the increase totally drowned seasonal changes, but we’re far from being out of the woods.
Bennett says that the seasonal fall is due to her silly little ‘jobs schemes’ that are really just rorts for employers but the reality is that unemployment isn’t falling. For Bennett to be showering herself in praise over this is kind of like if the Minister for Climate Change were to claim the warming problem is alleviating because daily temperatures are falling, when actually it’s just autumn.
Bennett is also excited that the total number of people on benefits has fallen. Well guess what, that happened every year for the last ten too, except 2009 when she was minister. It is the normal state of affairs for benefit numbers to fall between January and February, remove the seasonal effect and the trend is still upwards.
Bennett’s staffers need to give her seasonally-adjusted numbers, see if that stops her making an arse of herself. She’s been claiming victory for half a year now. It’s gone from laughable to embarrassing to cringe-worthy.
This disgrace of a minister needs to get some semblance of understanding of the reality of the problem, and then do something about it.
But that’s not going to happen. Watch for Bennett to claim victory again with smaller than usual decreases in dole numbers.
[Update: oh dear. Colin Espiner, have you heard of critical analysis?]