The Herald reports:
“[Key] also raised the 15 per cent Maori unemployment rate, saying improving education outcomes for Maori children would help address that.”
Improved education sounds good but:
1) how is Key going to actually lift Maori educational achievement? Not by cutting millions from the education budget like he did last year. Not by national standards – as Labour’s Kelvin Davis, a former teacher and principal, says ‘repeatedly measuring a pig doesn’t make it fatter. Talk is cheap, I want to see some action or even details of what the action will be.
2) education is not responsible for the Maori unemployment rate sitting at 15.4%. A year and a half ago, it was 8.1%. An economic crisis and a do nothing government are responsible for the near doubling of Maori unemployment, not education standards.
3) better education is great but the pay-offs are decades in the future. We obviously should be investing in that future but we also need government job creation to bring down unemployment now.
On a related note, National Party pollster David Farrar has played the ‘blame the minimum wage’ card to try to excuse the shocking level of unemployment. He claims that the abolishment of the lower youth minimum wage in 2008 is somehow responsible for higher unemployment. His ‘evidence’ is that gap between 15-19 year olds unemployment and 20-24 year olds has grown. Of course, the real reason it has grown is that 15-19 year olds always have a higher unemployment rate and, so, as general unemployment increases you would expect there’s to increase faster. If you look at the ratio of 15-19 unemployment to 20-24 unemployment, it’s pretty steady.
We don’t need to blame the minimum wage to explain the growing rate of 15-19 year old unemployment. Groups with normally higher unemployment always get hit the hardest by recession. Is Farrar going to blame the abolishment of youth rates for the greater gap between Maori unemployment and Pakeha unemployment too? Because you could using exactly the same argument he made for 15-19 year old unemployment.
The reality is, the Right hates the minimum wage because it means businesses have to give the working poor a better wage than they otherwise could get away with paying, and that money comes out of profits and executives’ salaries.