The truth behind job numbers

Written By: - Date published: 7:04 am, July 25th, 2017 - 25 comments
Categories: class war, economy, jobs, quality of life, wages, workers' rights - Tags: , , , ,

National is fond of claiming that the economy is adding plenty of new jobs. Bruce Munro has written an excellent piece in the ODT that looks in to the hard truth behind the numbers. It will surprise no on here to be told that National’s new jobs are often low quality, part time, low pay, short term, insecure. This is one of the reasons why, looking round the country, we see growing poverty and homelessness, the rise of the working poor.

Munro’s piece is long, detailed, and an excellent read. Here are just a few extracts:

Hours of work

In June, Paul Goldsmith, the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, was exulting in an 11.8% growth in online job advertisements during the past 12 months.

The previous month, he was pleased to announce 137,000 new jobs had been created during the year to May. ”The Government’s comprehensive economic plan is working for families, with lower unemployment, strong job creation and higher wages to help people get ahead,” Mr Goldsmith enthused.

But, talk of ”record labour force participation” and a ”significant increase” in jobs is only telling part of the story. Just below the surface, another darker picture emerges. It does not take much digging in Statistics New Zealand’s latest Household Labour Force Survey to uncover a growing world of low-paid work, insufficient working hours, financial struggles and unfulfilled lives.

Since 2008, when National took the reins, the number of people employed has increased 18.6%, or by 400,000 people. While this sounds a lot, it is actually a little sub-par compared with the percentage increase in the Extended Labour Force (ELF). Not to be confused with Santa’s little helper, the ELF is a grouping of all those who are employed, unemployed, or want a job but have given up looking.

Yes, that’s right, according to how the Government counts its beans, unemployment figures do not include people who want to work but are not actively looking for work. The latter are euphemistically lumped under the heading ”Potential Labour Force” along with those ”actively seeking but not currently available, but will be available to work in the next four weeks”.

While the percentage increase in employment and the extended labour force have kept roughly in step with each other there are less positive measures that have been galloping ahead.

During the past nine years, the percentage increase in unemployment, underemployment and underutilisation has been two to three times higher than the increase in employment.

Let’s take those one at a time.

For the whole of New Zealand, over that period, the number of people unemployed has increased 49%.

Then there are the underemployed. Those are the people who are employed for fewer than 30 hours a week and would like to be working more hours. Their number has increased 61%.

And there are the underutilised. This is the grouping of people who are unemployed, underemployed and in the potential labour force. They have grown by 38%.

Welcome to the precarious proletariat, aka, the precariat; the growing group of second-class citizens who struggle to get a decent job, a decent wage, a decent life.

In New Zealand today, there are 139,000 people unemployed and trying to find work. That includes 5500 unemployed people in Otago. But remember, ”unemployed” is not the whole picture. There are also 80,000 Kiwis wanting to work but who have given up looking, including 3600 in Otago. On top of that, there are 110,000 individuals in part-time work who need more hours, including 5400 in Otago. There are now 329,000 New Zealanders, including almost 15,000 in Otago, who cannot get any or enough work. That is one person for every eight people in the total work force.

It is a situation that angers trade union boss Gerard Hehir. Mr Hehir is national secretary of Unite Union, which has about 7000 members nationwide, half of whom are fast-food workers.

”For a generation, a huge section of the workforce has not only not had enough paid work, but from week to week they do not know how much work and income they will have,” he says. ”It has impacted disproportionately on younger, low-paid and Maori and Pasifika workers.

”Lack of work has simply been re-configured and, conveniently for the Government, hidden from most official statistics.”

What particularly angers Mr Hehir is what he perceives to be a deliberate strategy to use insecure work to keep workers compliant and maximise profits.

Wellington-based economist for the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Bill Rosenberg has no doubts the Government could improve the lot of the precariat if it wanted to.

”Unemployment and underemployment in its various forms has recovered much more slowly than it could have if there had been policies that focused on getting decent jobs for people out of work,” Mr Rosenberg says.

Not only is underemployment increasing, but the length of time people are unemployed is also growing. Compared with 2008, the percentage of those unemployed who remain without work for more than a year has tripled. Now, more than 30% of those looking for work remain ”between jobs” for more than 52 weeks.

On the underemployment front, Mr Rosenberg says people are being forced off benefits when there are no suitable jobs for them. He points to recent research for the Ministry of Social Development that shows only a third of those who came off welfare benefits during the year to June, 2011, were in employment two years later.

”They find themselves having to take up insecure, part-time or short-term jobs and many end up unemployed again or underemployed.”

New Zealand has the weakest job protection legislation of any job protection legislation of any OECD country, Mr Rosenberg says.

What is needed is a government focused on reducing unemployment and underemployment, and creating good jobs. …

Go read the full piece in the ODT.

25 comments on “The truth behind job numbers”

  1. Incognito 1

    Good piece!

    What’s needed is a change of government. We need a government that does not import slave labour immigrants to compete with and crowd out Kiwis, often the young and inexperienced. [Crikey, I’m starting to sound like a NZ1 supporter]

    The current situation is not accidental but entirely by design; thank you National for 9 years of backpedalling.

  2. Keith 2

    If job growth is as spectacular as Goldsmith claims, how can we have unemployed at all?

    How is it there is not a worker shortage?

    Why is wage growth essentially frozen with such demand and such competition?

    Could it be another National Party Minister is lying to us, again?

    • Richard Christie 2.1

      how can we have unemployed at all?

      ’cause unemployed NZ’ers are all drug addled losers, according to their PM.

  3. Tamati Tautuhi 3

    Job Statistics are meaningless if we change the criteria, we should be measuring the statistics the same way we did in the early 1900’s ?

  4. Nic the NZer 4

    The next government should introduce a policy which targets the unemployed and underemployed. A job guarantee meaning anybody who wants a job or more hours can access paid work. This would make for a fairer job market as the alternative to low paid private sector work is still a job. It would probably eliminate zero hour contracts too when employers find employees otherwise occupied for short notice work hours.

  5. One Anonymous Bloke 5

    Obviously the solution is to cancel the Household Labour Force Survey.

    • lprent 5.1

      That would be a typical National party response. And I guess that you haven’t read this..

      http://politik.co.nz/en/content/politics/1103/The-new-sexy-Government-department-Scott-Simpson-statistics-census.htm

      A little noticed relatively minor new spending allowance in last week’s Budget is actually the first indication of what is likely to be a major and radical upheaval in one of the most basic of Government functions.

      $4.5 million over three years is small change in the overall Budget context.

      The money is to be allocated to the Stats NZ Census Transformation project.

      Ultimately this is designed to end the five –yearly process where papers are dropped off at each house and filled in with data about who lives there and how they live.

      Once that happens, I’d say that a more acceptable survey technique to replace the household survey would be the next target.

      • ianmac 5.1.1

        The Nelson/Marlborough office of Stats NZ is being closed. Effective from March 2018. (Before or after the next Census?)

      • dukeofurl 5.1.2

        Its still necesary to vist every possible residence, otherwise you dont know what you dont know.- Its that house empty this mont or are they just away for weekend?

        Last time I filled my forms online after they left the package for the paper forms.

        They still came knocking a couple of times looking for results- but I was away for various reasons.
        I considered even if they knew I had filled in online they were paid for the houses they visited so the incentives were to collect anyway.

        Im more worried about the data still containing personification, as they have blurred the lines about removing things like names and addresses fairly soon when processed. This is where David Thiels business coincided with NZ Census data. Could that be the reason he took citizenship, so his company Palaintir was not considered ‘foreign’

    • dukeofurl 5.2

      Cancel the HLF ?

      Thats already happened
      http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/income-and-work/employment_and_unemployment/household-labour-force-survey-info-releases.aspx

      The last release was 2014 and they note :
      Note: We have discontinued this release. Content previously available in the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) release is now available in:

      Labour Market Statistics

  6. Tamati Tautuhi 6

    NZF tried to introduce a Bill through Parliament to get the 95,000 unemployed between 15-25 years old into Government organised work schemes and training however this was voted down by National & the Greens ?

    Go figure that one out ?

    • Nic the NZer 6.1

      Really unimpressed by the Green party if that is true. Unsurprised in the case of National.

  7. The decrypter 7

    Todds hours of work are limited.

  8. patricia bremner 8

    Well, we are being prepared to step aside for cheaper robots.
    We are “The Experiment”.
    That is why our capitalist “Successes” are lauded and our societal failures are poorly counted. imo.

  9. RedLogix 9

    This is just a modern version of the old ‘labour pool’ days. Employers shift the risk onto workers while retaining the rewards for themselves. It’s very common everywhere, in all industries, at all levels of employment. It’s the big thing in HR circles these days.

    There are quite a few job placement companies active in this space.

    It’s not all bad if the worker does pick up some of the reward. If say you’re paid $35/hr as a full-time employee, then as a contractor you need to be paid at least double this to reflect the extra risk and costs. OK if you have the skills that are in demand, or the flexible hours suit your lifestyle. Not so hot if you have a fat mortgage and young family.

    What can work well is for employers to pay a monthly retainer which covers essential living costs, with a guaranteed minimum number of days over and above that.

    The problem for lower skilled workers is the huge asymmetry of power in the relationship. Worse still when there is a job placement/labour hire company in the loop, essentially acting as the employers agent. I’d imagine unions have left a big opportunity on the table by not getting into this space themselves.

    • I’d imagine unions have left a big opportunity on the table by not getting into this space themselves.

      I’m pretty sure that would turn them into guilds and they’re illegal.

      The laws have been set to benefit the capitalists by removing the power of the workers.

      • RedLogix 9.1.1

        The wiki page on guilds is an interesting read:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guild

        While very few guilds still exist in their original form, there are plenty of professional organisations (law, medicine, engineering, etc) that are indistinguishable from them.

  10. Ad 10

    +100 Cheers Rob and Mr Munro

  11. Carolyn_nth 11

    Quoted in the above post:

    He points to recent research for the Ministry of Social Development that shows only a third of those who came off welfare benefits during the year to June, 2011, were in employment two years later.

    ”They find themselves having to take up insecure, part-time or short-term jobs and many end up unemployed again or underemployed.”

    So this is where the punitive, sanction-laden, benefit system, touted by Paula Bennett, Bling, Shonkey, et al has taken us!

  12. Philj 12

    Very informative journalism. Nothing really surprising if you pay attention to what is really happening. What is surprising is that it’s not surprising to many.

  13. Stuart Munro 13

    “History is a constant race between invention and catastrophe. Education helps but it’s never enough. You also must run.” Frank Herbert.

    NZ governments haven’t run for a generation.

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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    2 weeks ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    2 weeks ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago

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