Unemployment even more widespread than numbers suggest

Written By: - Date published: 10:20 am, March 2nd, 2010 - 11 comments
Categories: unemployment - Tags:

276,000 jobless, of which 168,000 officially unemployed. 115,000 more underemployed.

Big numbers, but remember that the unemployed aren’t a static group being added to every day as the Key Government sits on its hands. In fact there’s a continual churn of people into unemployment and into work much larger than the net increase.

When Paula Bennett is criticised about the rising number of people on the dole she regularly retorts by mentioning the number of people coming off the dole. For example an interviewer will say ‘the number of people on the dole rose by another 3,000 last month, aren’t you a complete failure?’ and Bennett replies ‘well, actually it’s kind of not so bad because 5,000 people came off the dole last month’. Of course the 3,000 is the net figure*. If 5,000 came off the dole that means 8,000 went on to it.

In the December Quarter, unemployment rose by 15,000 but 83,000 of the unemployed had not been unemployed in the previous quarter (roughly). That means 68,000 unemployed (nearly half) had moved into work in the quarter and 83,000 had become unemployed.

Two conclusions from this:

Joblessness is experienced by a few wider portion of the population than appears when you look at the bland joblessness numbers. There are 276,000 now but it’s likely that more than twice that number have experienced joblessness during the recession.

The number of unemployed moving into work and the short average duration of the unemployed in unemployment shows that they are not bludgers. People want to work. Before the recession came and stuffed everything up, people who are unemployed now were happily working.

That’s backed up by a graph from NZIER [not online] that shows the number of applicants per job has doubled as unemployed people desperately seek work.

Unemployment is not the fault of the unemployed, it is the fault of the international capitalist system that caused the crisis and the Key Government that has sat on its hands and done nothing about it

*[I can imagine the pain of the officials trying to explain net increases to Bennett. Official: ‘if you have the private file of five beneficiaries and I give you three more and take away two, the net increase is one’. Bennett: ‘and now I leak them to the Dompost?’ 🙂 ] [statistics from Stats Infoshare]

11 comments on “Unemployment even more widespread than numbers suggest”

  1. andy 1

    When I was made redundant I was never recorded on any government agency as no longer employed. The only agency that would have noticed would have been IRD. The shadow figures of people with savings or spouses that earn to much so as to not qualify for benefits must be large.

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    In the far North there is more petty property crime, faces missing from communities as they seek work out of area, and high transience rates at local schools and illegal hammering of seafood stocks and farm resources for food. WINZ offices have a constant flow of people often looking for jobs, but WINZ doesn’t do that, it just makes people feel like shit in the hope they won’t jump through all the hoops required before a benefit is granted.
    ‘Catch 22′ was invented for National Governments-They create and exacerbate the conditions for ballooning unemployment then encourage the population to turn on the resulting unemployed-bludgers etc.

    Bravado suffices for a while but the mortagee sales and sad ass body language tells the real story. Those with jobs jealously guard them and brown nosing is de riguer for many. This all adds up to unrealised potential and derailed or unsatisfactory lives. Couples existing on one income when they need and prefer two for practial and self esteem reasons. Precarious work where people desperately need more stable hours, but get put ‘on call’ for minimum wage.
    I remember the 90s and the Auckland Unemployed Rights Centre newsletter”Mean Times’ I hoped those times had gone for good, but at this rate the burning effigies are going to be back soon enough.

    • Pete 2.1

      TM – I agree whole-heartedly with your statements except that about Work and Income (WINZ was a Rankin-era marketing term, long since abandoned, except in the media).

      “WINZ offices have a constant flow of people often looking for jobs, but WINZ doesn’t do that, it just makes people feel like shit in the hope they won’t jump through all the hoops required before a benefit is granted.”

      Work and Income itself is caught in a Catch-22 position themselves (as with most public servants) of having to use the processes put in place by successive governments. The ‘hoops’ you talk about were driven by the ‘Working New Zealand’ programme that was trying to put people into work at a time when unemployment was low (by Labour) – note – this was not about shifting sickness beneficiaries to unemployment, unlike what others would have you believe. The problem here is that Work and Income are not allowed by this government to move with the current dynamics of continually rising unemployment. While a function of Work and Income is to assist with job-matching, while the jobs aren’t there and employers aren’t engaged there’s bugger all they can actually do – but people who apply for benefits still have to cope with the rigour developed in another time.

      I feel that rather than smearing Work and Income with the ‘you b*stards’ brush, we should recognise that the people that work there have a hard enough job as it is in the current climate without having to get crapped on by others.

      I know you’re probably thinking “but at least they have a job” – but really, I wouldn’t want it at the moment, and certainly not while a National government remains in power, and when people have a pre-disposition to thinking that “WINZ makes you feel like shit” then how do you think an average day of work goes for them? Do you think you’d be sour? Especially given the low wages they are paid – which incidentally are frozen for a while c/o Mr English and co.

      • Tiger Mountain 2.1.1

        Fair enough points in a general way Pete, Work and Income staff are indeed workers too and public servants. It is not a barrel of fun dealing with people at their lowest and most vulnerable. “I was only following orders’ can only attract so much sympathy however. Work and Income has for decades operated on ‘policy’ rather than sticking to the applicable legislation. I write from a detailed local knowledge perspective, my partner has been an advocate for beneficiaries since Peoples Centre days of the 90s in Auckland and latterly in Kaitaia. It gets ugly I can tell you, with some senior staff being pakeha farmers and businessmens wives and younger ones well indoctrinated by the fly in and fly out trainers. Your comment about the low pay must be correct as a number of the staff seem to have secondary employment as well! in bars and retail. The end result is a culture is of belittlement and blame rather than advising correctly and ensuring entitlements in these tough times. It is a bit of sad “ladder pulling up’ really by some in that particular office.

        • Pete

          Fair cop TM.

          I think you came closest to the real reason in your comment re ‘fly in, fly out trainers’ – besides a few individuals (such as those you’ve mentioned) the real reason is that, in general, case managers are put to work with very little training in the ins and outs of a very complex system. And turnover is pretty high too (or at least it used to be).

          The main thing I guess I was getting to is that we shouldn’t be holding the branches to task in ALL cases (though certainly we should for a great many), when they are not allowed to move with the times and really support the swathes of people who are vulnerable and at their lowest. Blanket statements aren’t helpful!

          Also, because of the paltry amount benefits and supplementary support provide it’s not too hard to comprehend the ‘us vs them’ culture in every office across the country (from both sides of the counter) – I can only imagine what it’s like in areas like Kaitaia where so many are unable to get work – all the best to your partner.

  3. Bill 3

    …they are not bludgers.
    This is true. The bludgers are the banksters and speculators and industry captains who have increased their rate of theft from the rest of us quite markedly over recent decades as evinced by the deeper and more widespread poverty sitting opposite ridiculous levels of individual material wealth. Why do you give any oxygen whatsoever to that piece of bullshit that claims that the poorest people in society are the bludgers? Not very good at it if they are so bloody poor, are they? But by repeating the lie in any form whatsoever is to give it traction.
    People want to work.
    Erm, yes and no. You actually mean ‘take a job’ rather than work, no? Anyway, we need to take up jobs to avoid the wealth levels experienced by the right wings unemployed bludgers. I wonder how many of us would sell our labour if we provided one another with a reasonable, non punitive level of material well being in exchange for agreed upon contributions to industry, community and society…a level of material well being that could be augmented by genuinely voluntary whoring on the job market in order to afford sexy and fashionable as opposed to perfectly adequate and functional? To take a job is to be abused and ripped off and I don’t think too many of us actually want that for ourselves. It’s forced on us. Work is something entirely different to that.
    Before the recession came and stuffed everything up, people who are unemployed now were happily working. Nah. Again, people take up jobs to live, not vica versa.

    • Marty G 3.1

      Gee, I have to be very precise with my words for you, eh Bill. 🙂

      These are blog posts, not essays, sometimes you have to acknowledge the meaning behind the words and not be too picky.

      I know that people work because it’s a necessity but that also means people want to work because life ain’t too flash without it.

  4. Hilary 4

    Not long ago when the unemployment rate was really low Helen Clark said that it was not enough to get people into jobs; they also had to be good quality jobs. How far from this goal we have come in only a couple of years.

  5. Olwyn 5

    Galbraith: “There is a problem with the word “work.” It is used to characterise two radically different, sharply contrasting commitments of time. Work can be something that one greatly enjoys, that accords a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment and without which there would be a feeling of displacement, social rejection, depression or, at best, boredom. It is such work that defines social position – that of corporate executive, financier, artist, scholar, television commentator, even journalist. But work also consigns men and women to the anonymity of the toiling masses. Here it consists of tiring muscular effort replete with tedium…The word “work” denotes sharply contrasting situations; it is doubtful whether any word in any language is quite so at odds with itself in what it describes.”

  6. SPC 6

    With government operating on settings which prevent full employment, the term bludger is obsolete.

    Then there are the low wages which necessite over-work by some. Higher wages allow job sharing/hours of work which develop quality of life.

  7. Lost in the System 7

    I wonder how many other people are lost in the system like me. I’ve been out of work for a long time. I’m regularly told I am over-qualified for positions available. I can’t get any financial support to cover my living expenses because my property is valued over the dole limit. Every year I bust my gut trying to move forward, developing products and services to help others, while living on loans I withdraw against my property in a diminishing market. I am well aware that if things do not change the bank will sell my home and I’ll be living on a park bench somewhere. After being a big contributor for many years in the core development of communications technology in NZ and paying huge personal taxes each year there is not one financial support option available to me, and yet people who have never achieved or contributed anything are well looked after. I’d love to know if I have missed something or if I have understood this correctly.

    Your comments are welcomed.
    PC : )

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