- Date published:
7:04 am, July 25th, 2017 - 25 comments
Categories: class war, economy, jobs, quality of life, wages, workers' rights - Tags: dodgy statistics, jobs, mcjobs, precariat, working poor
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.