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MSM catches up on Unemployment stats rort

14 August 2017 3 comments

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The mainstream media – or at least one clever journalist working for Mediaworks/Newshub – has finally caught up with a story broken by this blogger last year that unemployment data from Statistics NZ was no longer reliable;

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Fake Stats

Last year, I revealed how Statistics NZ had revised it’s definition of what constituted being unemployed;

On 29 June 2016, Statistics NZ announced that it would be changing the manner in which it defined a jobseeker;

Change: Looking at job advertisements on the internet is correctly classified as not actively seeking work. This change brings the classification in line with international standards and will make international comparability possible.

Improvement: Fewer people will be classified as actively seeking work, therefore the counts of people unemployed will be more accurate.

The statement went on to explain;

Change in key labour market estimates:

  • Decreases in the number of people unemployed and the unemployment rate

  • Changes to the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate range from 0.1 to 0.6 percentage points. In the most recent published quarter (March 2016), the unemployment rate is revised down from 5.7 percent to 5.2 percent 

  • Increases in the number of people not in the labour force 

  • Decreases in the size of the labour force and the labour force participation rate

The result of this change? At the stroke of a pen, unemployment fell from 5.7% to 5.2%.

Simply because if a person was job-searching using the internet they were “not actively seeking work”.

Which beggars belief as the majority of jobseekers will be using the internet. It is the 21st century – what else would they be using?

I pointed out that jobseekers in the 21st Century would be using internet websites – as government departments WINZ and  Careersnz  were at pain to point out on their own websites;

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“Most job vacancies are listed online” – CareersNZ.

“Most jobs in NZ are advertised online” – WINZ

Evidently Statistics NZ  did not get the memo.

Dodgy Data, Sham Stats

The ‘revision’ of definitions follows from another dubious Statistics NZ criteria for how they measure unemployment;

Employed: people in the working-age population who, during the reference week, did one of the following:

* worked for one hour or more for pay or profit in the context of an employee/employer relationship or self-employment

* worked without pay for one hour or more in work which contributed directly to the operation of a farm, business, or professional practice owned or operated by a relative

As I questioned last year; if working one hour, without pay, is the minimum criteria to be considered “employed”, then what must our true rate of unemployment actually be?

The msm seemed oblivious to what was been perpetrated.

National, however,  were quick to capitalise on  the ‘revised’ September statistics, as this Twitter-meme showed on 2 November 2016;

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Newshub looks deeper

Writing for Mediaworks/Newshub, Anna Bracewell-Worrall realised that  Statistic NZ unemployment data is not as reliable as New Zealanders have been led to believe;

The official unemployment rate in New Zealand has hit an eight-year low of 4.8 percent.

Sounds impressive, right? Sounds like the kind of employment environment where the worker rules – where there is little competition for jobs, and bosses are so desperate for workers they are offering great salaries and benefits.

But the 4.8 percent unemployment statistic is not telling the full story.

There are 1 million New Zealanders not in jobs and not counted in either the unemployment or employment rate. Many of the 1 million people ‘not in the labour force’ are doing things like studying or caring for a family member.

She didn’t quite get it right when she asserted;

To count as unemployed, people must have actively sought work within the past month and be available for work within the next four weeks. ‘Actively sought’ means they contacted an employer, placed an ad to find a job or took steps to set up a business.

You might be trawling Seek for a forestry job in Kaikohe, but if you don’t apply for anything in the month before the employment survey takes place, you count as ‘outside the workforce’.

Ms Bracewell-Worrall asked the $64,000 + gst question;

So, are we being misled by statistics boasting low unemployment rates?

The answer was provided by Bill Rosenberg, economist at the Council of Trade Unions;

[Rosenberg] says when people read headlines saying New Zealand has a 4.8 percent unemployment rate, they are not getting the full picture.

“When [people] look at that figure, they get a false sense of wellbeing. Actually, there’s a lot more people out there who are still wanting work.”

He said he’s never been particularly happy with the exclusion of people who have stopped looking for work.

“It’s a fairly brutal definition, really. It’s what’s used internationally, but it really doesn’t take into account the nature of the jobs that are out there and the difficulties people can have in finding those jobs.”

“There are a lot of people who are not getting what they need from employment,” he said, be it enough hours or enough pay.

Statistics NZ has accepted that their measurement of “official unemployment” is flawed and presents a distorted picture;

The number of people unemployed and the unemployment rate are widely used as indicators of labour market performance and unutilised labour resources in the economy. For many years the measure of unemployment and the unemployment rate have been criticised from both an economic and social perspective. Some of the main criticisms are that the unemployment rate:

  • fails to capture labour market downturns in all contexts

  • does not fit with common perceptions of ‘lack of work’

  • is no longer sufficient on its own in increasingly diversifying labour markets to describe all aspects of attachment to the labour market and insufficiency in paid work 

  • fails to capture the economic hardship experienced by individual workers.

To counter criticism that the Household LabourForce Survey was presenting dubious data and under-reporting real unemployment and under-employment, Statistics NZ has offered a new(ish)  category of “under-utilisation” (see Addendum below for full details);

Statistics NZ will produce official underutilisation statistics using data from the quarterly HLFS. The HLFS redesign will enable more accurate reporting of underutilisation statistics, in line with the recommendations of the International Labour Organisation (ILO, 2013).

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The underutilised population are people who were either unemployed, underemployed, or in the potential labour force.

Crucially, the “Potential Labour Force”  sub-category includes;

…available potential jobseekers – people who are not actively seeking work but were available in the reference week and want a job (the ‘discouraged’ are included in this group).

This is a marked improvement from Statistics NZ’s earlier arbitrary decision not to include unemployed job-seekers who were using on-line methods to find paid work;

Looking at job advertisements on the internet is “correctly” classified as not actively seeking work

The Bogus Stats – 4.8%

The July 2017 Quarter of  Labour Market Statistics presented good news.  The unemployment rate had fallen to  4.8%.

National were quick to seize on the data;

The latest Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) shows the unemployment rate is now at the lowest level since the start of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) says Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith.

“The unemployment rate has fallen to 4.8 per cent in the June 2017 quarter, the lowest rate since December 2008. Our strong economy continues to deliver for New Zealanders,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“The number of people unemployed has dropped by 3,000 this quarter, reflecting a robust labour market and increasing employment opportunities.

It was bogus of course. Stats NZ were using their dodgy definitions to conjure up that figure of 4.8%.

The Real Stats – 11.8% !

However, the Under-utilisation rate offers a more sober picture;

In the June 2017 quarter, the seasonally adjusted underutilisation rate fell by 0.5 percentage points to 11.8 percent. This represents 13,000 fewer underutilised people, down to 327,000.

New Zealand’s real unemployed/under-employed stands at 11.8% – over double the “official unemployment rate”. That figure is not what the msm will be showing the country any time soon.

Which begins to answer the question why – when we supposedly have low unemployment – are wages continuing to stagnate?

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Capitalist  Supply & Demand dogma states that in times of shortage of labour, wages must rise. This has not been happening.

Current high migration has been offered as one reason.

A more credible reason is that the country’s “low unemployment”  has been an illusion. Unemployment/under-employment is much higher than the public and msm  have been led to believe.

New Zealand is experiencing hidden unemployment/under-employment and the truth is only now slowly starting to emerge.  The question remaining to be asked is; will the msm cease focusing on trivia and begin to do some meaningful investigative work?

Newshub has started the ball rolling. Let’s hope they continue and others pick up on this.

Because this is the REAL news:

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Unemployment/under-employment – July, 2017: 11.8%

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Addendum

The full sub-categories and definitions of Under-utilised labour is:

The underemployed

There are several types of underemployment. The measure used here is time-related underemployment, which exists when an employed individual wants to work more hours than they usually do and is available to do so.

The ILO guideline (ILO, 2013) defines the underemployed as employed individuals who:

  • worked less than a specified threshold of hours (usually part-time), and
  • would like to work more hours, and
  • were available to do so in the reference week.

The unemployed

According to the international standard definition of unemployment (ILO, 2013), the unemployed comprises all individuals who in the reference week:

  • were not in employment, and
  • were available to work, and
  • were actively seeking employment.

The potential labour force

The potential labour force consists of people who are not in the labour force but can be considered to be ‘just outside it’. They meet two of the three criteria (listed above) needed to be considered unemployed. Two main groups of individuals are in the potential labour force:

  1. unavailable jobseekers – people who were actively seeking work, were not available to have started work in the reference week, but would become available within a short subsequent period
  2. available potential jobseekers – people who are not actively seeking work but were available in the reference week and want a job (the ‘discouraged’ are included in this group).

The first group is considered to have slightly closer attachment to the labour market than the second group, but both have much stronger attachment than other groups who are not in the labour force.

The extended labour force

In addition to the measures outlined above that form the underutilised population, a further measure has also been introduced, the extended labour force. It measures the total labour force (those employed and unemployed) plus the potential labour force. This is used as the denominator when constructing the underutilisation rate.

 

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References

Mediaworks/Newshub:  Unemployment – Bad news NZ, it’s much worse than you think

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey – Revisions to labour market estimates

Careersnz: Job hunting tips

Work and Income: Where to look

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey – Definitions

Twitter: National (2 Nov)

Statistics NZ: Introducing underutilisation in the labour market

Statistics NZ: The underutilised

Statistics NZ:  Labour Market Statistics – June 2017 quarter

National Party:  Unemployment at lowest rate since GFC

Radio NZ:  Strong GDP makes little difference to average earners – English

Previous related blogposts

The REAL level of unemployment

Roy Morgan Poll: Unemployment and Under-employment up in New Zealand!

Un-employment; under-employment; and the plain unvarnished truth

Lies, Damned lies and Statistical Lies

National exploits fudged Statistics NZ unemployment figures

Weekend Revelations #3 – Greg O’Connor and criminal statistics

Lies, Damned lies and Statistical Lies – ** UPDATE **

2016 – Ongoing jobless tally and why unemployment statistics will no longer be used

2017 – Ongoing jobless tally

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 8 August 2017.

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National exploits fudged Statistics NZ unemployment figures

20 August 2016 10 comments

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three-types-of-lies-lies-damned-lies-and-statistics

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On 3 July, this blogger reported how Statistics NZ had radically changed the manner in which it defined a jobseeker;

“Change: Looking at job advertisements on the internet is correctly classified as not actively seeking work. This change brings the classification in line with international standards and will make international comparability possible.

Improvement: Fewer people will be classified as actively seeking work, therefore the counts of people unemployed will be more accurate.”

Statistics NZ explained the ramifications of the “revised” definition of unemployment ;

  • Decreases in the number of people unemployed and the unemployment rate

  • Changes to the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate range from 0.1 to 0.6 percentage points. In the most recent published quarter (March 2016), the unemployment rate is revised down from 5.7 percent to 5.2 percent 

  • Increases in the number of people not in the labour force 

  • Decreases in the size of the labour force and the labour force participation rate

A person  job-searching using the internet  was “not actively seeking work“. Predictably, at the stroke of a pen, unemployment “fell” over-night from 5.7% to 5.2%.

It was “manna from heaven” for the incumbent government which has  been besieged on several fronts for worsening social and economic indicators.

Despite being little more than a dressed-up “accounting trick”, politicians could claim with a straight-face that “unemployment was falling”.

Which did not take long.

Statistics NZ announced it’s changes on 29 June 2016.

Four days later, our esteemed Dear Leader, John  Key, gloated on TVNZ’s Q+A  to Corin Dann;

“The unemployment rate in New Zealand is now falling pretty dramatically.”

Of course unemployment was falling “pretty dramatically”. Government statisticians were ‘cooking’ the numbers.

By August, both Key and Bill English were joyfully quoting the “new unemployment stats”.

On 8 August, Key was quoted on Interest.co.nz;

“On the other side, we need these people in an environment where unemployment is 5.2% and where growth is still very, very strong. You’ve just got to be careful when you play around with these things that you don’t hamstring certain industries that need these workers.”

So not only was Key quoting the”new, revised” unemployment stats – but his government was now actively predicating their immigration policy on the bogus data.

Three  days later, in Parliament, English also gleefully congratulated himself on the “fall” in unemployment;

“The Reserve Bank is forecasting an increase of about 1 percent more growth in the economy over the next 3 years, compared with what it thought 3 months ago. It is forecasting that unemployment is going to continue falling from 5.2 percent this year to 4.5 percent by 2019 and that job numbers will increase by more than 2 percent on average over the next 2 years. A significant component of that, of course, will be the construction boom, where thousands of houses will be built over the next 2 or 3 years. These forecasts are in line with Treasury’s forecast for the labour market and show an economy that is delivering more jobs, lower unemployment, and real increases in incomes when in many developed countries that is not happening.”

Whilst it is expected for politicians to mis-use questionable data for their own self-aggrandisement (and re-election chances), worse was to come.

On 10 August,  Radio NZ‘s Immigration Reporter, Gill Bonnett, reported;

“The unemployment rate stood at 5.2 percent for the three months ended in March.”

Bonnett did not  quote a reference source for that statement.

It is unfortunate that some journalists seem unaware of the new ‘regime’ which portrays unemployment lower than it actually is. The fact that Statistics NZ has ‘fudged’ their  data which now skews unemployment should be common knowledge throughout the mainstream media.

Especially when government ministers are now “patting themselves on the back” for a “fall” in unemployment that never happened.

The new unemployment figures are not factual. They are a fiction.

Journalists need to know the difference.

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Addendum1 – a letter to the public

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Listener <letters@listener.co.nz>
date: Sun, Aug 14, 2016
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
The Listener

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On 29 June, Statistics NZ announced that it would be “revising” the definition of unemployment. It stated that “looking at job advertisements on the internet is … not actively seeking work”.

The consequence, as Statistics NZ pointed out, would be a “decrease in the number of people unemployed and the unemployment rate”. Accordingly, SNZ revised down the March Quarter unemployment rate from 5.7% to 5.2%.

It did not take long for politicians to realise and exploit the benefits of this revision. On August 8, our esteemed Prime Minister cited the “fall” in unemployment;

“On the other side, we need these people in an environment where unemployment is 5.2% and where growth is still very, very strong…”

Three days later, Bill English also referenced the new figure;

“The Reserve Bank… is forecasting that unemployment is going to continue falling from 5.2 percent this year to 4.5 percent by 2019…”

Even Radio NZ’s Gill Bonnett quoted the “revised” figure in a story on 10 August;

“The unemployment rate stood at 5.2 percent for the three months ended in March.”

The irony is that whilst Statistics NZ plays with phantom numbers to suit itself, the unemployed do not find their circumstances improved one iota.

Changing the numbers does not change people’s real lives.
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-Frank Macskasy

[address & phone number supplied]

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Addendum2 – Statistics NZ’s other Dodgy Definitions

According to Statistics NZ, you are deemed to be employed if you;

 

  • worked for one hour or more for pay or profit in the context of an employee/employer relationship or self-employment
  • worked without pay for one hour or more in work which contributed directly to the operation of a farm, business, or professional practice owned or operated by a relative

 

How many people are deemed to be “employed” by Statistics NZ, even though they may be working one hour per week, with or without pay?

Statistics NZ’s employment/unemployment figures are utterly unreliable.

At best, they show the minimum number of unemployed in this country and most likely do not reflect reality.

Addendum3

As this blogger reported back  on 12 February 2014;

Roy Morgan poll has un-employment in New Zealand steady at 8.5%, with a further 11.3% under-employed. Collectively,  19.8% of the workforce (519,000, up 69,000)  were either unemployed or under-employed. For the December Quarter 2013, according to Roy Morgan:

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New Zealand real unemployment steady at 8.5%

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By contrast, the last Household Labour Force Survey (September 2013 quarter) reported 6.2% unemployed, and the 2013 Census survey gave a figure of 7.1%.

Roy Morgan’s polling to determine New Zealand’s unemployment rate yielded a figure 2.3 percentage-points higher than Statistics NZ’s Household Labour Force Survey.

Roy Morgan’s polling for the  previous December Quarter for 2012 yielded a similar story. Polling revealed a staggering 9.4% unemployed, with a further 11.6% under-employed. By contrast, Statistics NZ’s  figures for the December 2012 Quarter was 6.9% – 2.5 percentage points lower than Roy Morgan’s.

Curiously, Statistics NZ reports – but does not appear to analyse or question – their own conflicting data;

  • The number of people employed decreased by 23,000 (down 1.0 percent).
  • The labour force participation rate fell 1.2 percentage points, to 67.2 percent.
  • The number of people in the labour force decreased by 33,000.

 

So despite the unemployment rate for the December 2012 Quarter apparently falling “0.4 percentage points, to 6.9 percent” – the actual number of people in work did not increase – it  also fell.

There appears to be a solid disconnect between Statistics NZ’s own figures.

Considering the dodgy definitions being used by Statistics NZ, Roy Morgan may prove to be closer to reality than we realise.

Clearly our real unemployment rate is being masked by unrealistic definitions.

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References

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey – Revisions to labour market estimates

TVNZ: Q+A – Interview with John Key

Interest.co.nz: Key deflects calls for migration review; says migration needed with 5.2% unemployment

Scoop media: Parliament – Questions & Answers – 11 August 2016

Radio NZ: NZ visa numbers reach ‘staggering’ record high

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey

Statistics NZ: 2013 Census QuickStats about national highlights

Roy Morgan: New Zealand real unemployment up 0.6% to 9.4% & a further 11.6% of workforce under-employed – the highest recorded

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey – December 2012 quarter

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey – September 2013 quarter

Previous related blogposts

Roy Morgan Poll: Unemployment and Under-employment up in New Zealand!

Lies, Damned lies and Statistical Lies

Lies, Damned lies and Statistical Lies – ** UPDATE **

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why aren't all new zealanders so gullible

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 15 August 2016.

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Deep thought vs Deep prejudice

2 October 2014 3 comments

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Unemployment

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This letter to the editor appeared in The Listener, on 27 September, and caught my attention;

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letter to editor - the listener - Peter Dawson - child poverty - 27 september 2014

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Mr Dawson wrote in response to one of those typically unthinking comments which  condemned the poor for their “unbridled, reckless breeding“. The previous letter writer, a Mr Smith,  parrotted the usual prejudice,

For too long, family numbers have blown out of control, because the state, funded by people who took a responsible attitude towards family numbers, has been there to pick up the tab, and this has bred a culture of entitlement

The problem with people like Mr Smith is that no thinking is required when making such puerile statements. He just repeats what he’s heard from elsewhere.

It’s worthwhile recalling that before the Global Financial Crisis – caused by well-educated, white old men (and predominantly, they are usually always White Old Men) – unemployment in New Zealand in  the September 2007 Quarter stood at 3.5% – or around  79,000 people.

By 2012, that had rocketed to 7.3% – or 173,000 of our fellow New Zealanders.

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That’s 95,000 men and women who went from wage and salary earners – to the “lifestyle choice of luxury living on unemployment” .

Even with unemployment currently at 5.6%, there are still 137,000 people unemployed – 58,000 more than seven years ago. Factor in a growing problem of under-employment, and it becomes apparent very quickly why we have growing child poverty in this country. Especially when the definition of being ’employed’ is working only one hour  a week (or more), whether paid or un-paid.

When public or media attention is focused on high unemployment and poverty and government policies – the causation of   these problems is slated home to the GFC.

But taken in isolation, when the focus is on families suffering the effects of unemployment and poverty – the problem is slated home to “individual responsibility”.

The ignorance of people like Mr Smith is a kind of self-inflicted, Orwellian, double-think. No brain-power required.

By blaming individuals, and pointing to a so-called lack of ‘personal responsibility for indulging in irresponsible sexual activity’, Mr Smith is saved from the task of having to think through the issues. (Or else he’s just jealous he’s not ‘gettin’ some action‘, as our American cuzzies phrase it so eloquently in ghetto/under-class idiom?)

The next time Mr Smith or one of his clones parrots the same preconceived prejudice, they should be posed the question; what do we do with the children of workers who were in work, but now aren’t?

Do we;

Option A: Adopt the Eastern European gangster method and sell them into sexual slavery?

Option B: Adopt the Asian method, and chain them to sewing machines in sweat-shops, churning out Nikes and trendy t-shirts bearing witty  social-justice slogans for Western consumers?

Option C: Or just go with the ISIS technique of mass extermination?

Once we sort out that little “issue” (because actually calling these things problems then demands solutions – an ‘issue’ only requires a cuppa tea and a chat), we can turn our attention to more pressing matters, according to our esteemed Dear Leader;

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flags

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Damn. Which one?

Maybe we should ask Mr Smith. Perhaps it’s something he has thought deeply about?

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References

The Listener: Letters to Editor 20 September 2014

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: September 2007 quarter

MoBIE/Dept of Labour: Labour Market Reports – Employment and Unemployment – March 2008 Quarter

NZ Herald: Unemployment up to 7.3pc – a 13 year high

Reserve Bank NZ: Employment

Statistics NZ: Labour market statistics for the June 2014 quarter  –  Media Release

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey – Definitions

Statistics NZ: Introducing new measures of underemployment

Irregular Times:  Celebrate Labor Day Without Outsourced Sweatshop T-Shirts – wear a sweatshop-free shirt instead

Fairfax media: Key moves for poll on change to flag


 

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if you work one hour a week

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 27 September 2014

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A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part toru

8 March 2014 3 comments

Continued from:  A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part rua

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new-zealand-national-party_3382 adapted 2014

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An incoming Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?*) coalition government will have much work to do – especially in it’s first three years.

In the six years that National has been in power, they have passed many odious and often repressive pieces of legislation. Labour and the Greens have already committed to repealing some of these laws and policies.

As a Labour-led coalition government addresses growing problems of child poverty; income inequality; a shortage of decent, affordable housing; and chronic unemployment, a legislative programme will demand a long list of progressive reforms.

In no particular order;

The 90 Day Employment Trial Period

An amendment to the Employment Relations Act 2000, Section 67A, allows  employers to sack – without just cause or a chance for an employee to improve performance – within a 90 day period.

It gives unbalanced power to employers who can blackmail an employee or get rid of them at the slightest whim. It also makes workers less willing to be mobile in the workplace. Why change jobs at the risk of being fired within 90 days of taking up a new position?

When the 90 Day Trial period was first introduced in April 2009, it applied only to companies employing 19 staff or less.

By April 2011, this was extended to all companies regardless of staff numbers. (A typical National strategy; start small – then encompass an entire sector.)

Has it helped  generate more jobs as National claimed it would?  Evidence suggests it played very little part in creating employment, and indeed unemployment went up after both legislative changes,

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So aside from empowering employers and disempowering workers, what exactly was the point of enacting this piece of legislation? Because it seems that an awful lot of people lost their jobs through this legislation. As one media report stated,

It is not known how many workers were dismissed during the trial period, but the figures revealed 27 per cent of employers said they had fired at least one new employee during or at the end of their trial.

This means at least 18,000 people lost their jobs in the first three months of employment last year, with the actual figure likely to be much higher.

And precisely how does this raise wages, as per Dear Leader’s past promises (see below)?

This law gives too much power to one party in the Employer-Employee relationship, and it has no place in a fair-bargaining workplace.

On 17 October 2010, Labour promised that this law would be scrapped by an incoming Labour-led government. I hope the current Labour leadership has not resiled from this commitment.

Ports of Auckland Dispute – Shipping Lines Price Fixing

“The average income has been about $90,000, so it hasn’t been a badly-paid place. But the problem is flexibility when ships arrive and when staff get called out, how they can cope with that.” – John Key, 12 March 2012

Putting to one side the myth of  POAL maritime workers earning $90,000 – so what?

Even if it were true (which is doubtful – POAL has never released the workings of how they arrived at that sum, despite requests), isn’t such a good wage precisely what Dear Leader John Key has been advocating?

POAL management sought to reduce costs;  casualise their workforce; and compete with Ports of Tauranga for shipping business. Unfortunately, competing on costs would, by necessity, involve driving down wages.

This appears to have been motivated  by a high degree of price-fixing by shipping cartels, as was pointed out by the Productivity Commission in April 2012,

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Full story

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Rather than supporting the workers, Dear Leader bought into a situation where international shipping companies were playing New Zealand ports off against each other, to gain the  lowest possible port-charges.  Even local company, Fonterra, was playing the game.

Here we have a situation where New Zealand workers were enjoying high wages – something John Key insists he supports – and yet he was effectively allowing international corporations to create circumstances where those wages could  be cut and driven down.

As with the “Hobbit Law”, our Dear Leader appears to pay more heed to the demands of international corporate interests than to fulfilling his pledges to raise wages.

An incoming Labour-led government should immediatly implement the Productivity Commission’s recommendation,

“The commission recommends that New Zealand require shipping companies wishing to collaborate to fix prices or limit capacity to demonstrate to the Commerce Commission that there will be a public benefit which will outweigh the anti-competitive effects.”

This problem must be addressed by an incoming government. It is simply intolerable for foreign corporations to be dictating labour laws; industrial relations; and wages, in a supposedly sovereign nation.

Youth Rates

From 1 May 2013, National  re-introduced a new Youth Rate. The rate would be set at $10.80 an hour [soon to be increased to $11.40 per hour]– compared to the then- minimum rate of $13.50  an hour  [soon to be $14.25 on 1 April this year], and would include 16 to 19 year olds.

John Key stated,

“For a lot of employers, they will go out there and say, ‘I’m going to give somebody a go that’s been in the workforce before’ and so the balance is against that younger person. That’s very disheartening for them – they are good young people, they just want a chance.

So I think it’s got to be seen in perspective – the vast overwhelming bulk of youngsters actually won’t go on a starting out wage.”

Which conflicts with John Key’s other assertions that he wants to see wages rise;

We think Kiwis deserve higher wages and lower taxes during their working lives, as well as a good retirement.” – John Key, 27 May 2007

We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.” – John Key, 29 January 2008

We will also continue our work to increase the incomes New Zealanders earn. That is a fundamental objective of our plan to build a stronger economy.” – John Key, 8 February 2011

We want to increase the level of earnings and the level of incomes of the average New Zealander and we think we have a quality product with which we can do that.” –  John Key, 19 April 2012

Youth rates won’t achieve that goal, Mr Prime Minister!

There is no good reason why Youth Rates should actually create new jobs. More likely, a drop in youth wages will simply create more ‘churn’ in employment/unemployment numbers.

As David Lowe, Employment Services Manager for the Employers and Manufacturers Association, inadvertently  revealed,

Without an incentive an employer with a choice between an experienced worker and an inexperienced worker will choose experience every time.”

As Lowe admitted – there is no new job for the  younger worker. S/he is merely displacing an older worker.

As it is, figures from Statistics New Zealand’s  Household Labour Force Survey showed that unemployment for young people had already fallen by the March 2013 Quarter – a full two months before Youth Rates came into effect;

In the year to March 2013, there was a large fall in unemployment for people aged 15–24 years (down 10,500). This fall can be largely attributed to a decrease in unemployed 20–24-year-olds (down 11,200). This was an atypical fall in unemployment, as the number of people unemployed for this age group usually increases during March quarters. The unemployment rate for people aged 20–24 years fell 4.1 percentage points to 10.9 percent – the lowest rate since the September 2009 quarter.

The employment rate for 20–24-year-olds rose over the year to March 2013. There was also an increase in the number of people aged 15–24 years not in the labour force over the year. Behind this was a rise in the number of young people outside the labour force who are studying (up 25,000). The number of both 15–19-year-olds and 20–24-year-olds in study rose –  up 16,200 and 8,800 respectively.
NEET rate declines

In seasonally adjusted terms, the NEET (not in employment, education or training) rate for youth (aged 15–24 years) decreased 1.5 percentage points, to 12.5 percent in the March 2013 quarter. This is the lowest youth NEET rate since the September 2011 quarter. The NEET rate for people aged 20–24 years fell 2.4 percentage points to 15.9 percent.

As the global economy continued to improve; the Christchurch re-build moved into high gear; and demand for our exports increased, unemployment was bound to eventually fall.

In which case, paying young workers a lower wage than their older counterparts was nothing more than a “gift” handed to employers.

As such, it has no place in a modern, civilised society. Youth rates are exploitative and demoralising. They also drag adult wages downward, as employers can opt for cheaper labour, as  David Lowe stated above.

In October 2012, Labour’s then-Leader, David Shearer condemned youth rates,

“It’s not going to create jobs by driving down wages.  These people are going to leave and go to Australia.

We need an economy that provides decent, secure jobs and good incomes and where young people have hope and opportunity, not the low-wage vision promoted by National.”

An incoming Labour-led government must repeal this exploitative legislation.

Continued at:  A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part wha

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(* At this point in time, NZ First’s leader, Winston Peters,  has not indicated which bloc – Labour or National – he intends to coalesce with. As such, any involvement by NZ First in a progressive government cannot be counted upon.)

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

To be continued at:  A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part wha

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References

Parliament Legislation: Employment Relations Act 2000, Section 67A

NZ Herald: Will the 90 Day trial period make a difference?

Beehive:  90-Day Trial Period extended to all employers

Trading Economics: New Zealand Unemployment Rate

Waikato Times: Thousands sacked under 90-day trial period

Radio NZ:  Labour would scrap 90 day trial – Goff

Fairfax media: Calls to end shipping lines’ price fixing

Fairfax media: Jackson pulls back from port comments

Radio NZ: PM defends lower youth pay rate

Scoop media: Starting-out wage will help young people onto job ladder

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: March 2013 quarter

TV1 News: Employers back youth ‘starting wage’

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Roy Morgan Poll: Unemployment and Under-employment up in New Zealand!

12 February 2014 8 comments

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Unemployed under-employment

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A new Roy Morgan poll has un-employment in New Zealand steady at 8.5%, with a further 11.3% under-employed. Collectively,  19.8% of the workforce (519,000, up 69,000)  were either unemployed or under-employed. For the December Quarter 2013, according to Roy Morgan:

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New Zealand real unemployment steady at 8.5%

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By contrast, the last Household Labour Force Survey (September 2013 quarter) reported 6.2% unemployed, and the 2013 Census survey gave a figure of 7.1%.

Gary Morgan, of Roy Morgan said,

The latest Roy Morgan New Zealand December Quarter 2013 employment figures show New Zealand unemployment at 8.5% (unchanged from September Quarter 2013). However, New Zealand under-employment – those working part-time but looking for more work – has jumped to a record high 11.3% (up 2.7%). It should be noted that this is the fourth year in a row that under-employment has increased in the December Quarter. However, this year’s increase is substantially larger than in previous years and must represent a major concern for Prime Minister John Key seeking re-election.

“This means a total of 19.8% (up 2.7%) New Zealanders are either unemployed or under-employed – almost identical to the figure earlier last year in the March Quarter 2013 of 19.9%. Total New Zealand unemployment and under-employment is also significantly higher than when Prime Minister John Key won the 2011 Election (19.0%). Key clearly needs to reduce unemployment and under-employment during 2014 to have a strong chance of winning re-election to a third term in November.”

Bearing in mind that Statistics NZ defines being employed as anyone working one hour or more, per week, whether paid or unpaid, and it becomes apparent as to why unemployment/employment statistics in this country are skewed towards the low end. Statistics NZ is simply not presenting us with a real picture of  unemployment.

This, of course, suits governments of either hue, whether National or Labour-led.

Roy Morgan further  explained how their polling was conducted;

The Roy Morgan New Zealand Unemployment estimate is obtained by surveying a New Zealand-wide cross section by telephone. An unemployed person is classified as part of the labour force if they are looking for work, no matter when.

The results are not seasonally adjusted and provide an accurate measure of monthly unemployment estimates in New Zealand. The Statistics New Zealand Unemployment estimates are obtained by mostly telephone interviews.

Households selected for the Statistics New Zealand Labour Survey are interviewed each quarter for up to two years (eight interviews), with one-eighth of the sample being replaced each quarter. The first interview is conducted face-to-face. Subsequent interviews are then conducted by telephone.

Statistics New Zealand classifies an unemployed person as part of the labour force only if, when surveyed, they had actively sought work in the past four weeks ending with the reference week and were available for work or had a new job to start within the next four weeks.

Statistics New Zealand Unemployment estimates are also seasonally adjusted. For these reasons the Statistics New Zealand Unemployment estimates are different from the Roy Morgan Unemployment estimate.

There is a similar divergence caused in Australia’s ABS Unemployment estimates and the Roy Morgan Australian Unemployment estimates. Roy Morgan Executive Chairman Gary Morgan’s concerns regarding the ABS Unemployment estimate are clearly outlined in his letter to the Australian Financial Review, which was not published.

No doubt National/ACT supporters will find little joy in these figures and will casually dismiss them as unreliable or some other reason.

But one suspects they will sing a different tune when a Labour-led government is installed later this year, and Roy Morgan polling continues to show higher-than-official  unemployment statistics.

At that point the Right will suddenly “discover” Roy Morgan.

Note: The Household Labour Force Survey for the  December 2013 quarter was released on 5 February 2014.

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References

NZ Parliament: Unemployment and employment statistics: the Household Labour Force Survey in context

Roy Morgan:  New Zealand real unemployment steady at 8.5% and a further 11.3% (up 2.7%) of workforce are under-employed

Roy Morgan:  Roy Morgan measures real unemployment in Australia not the “perception” of unemployment

Statistics NZ: 2013 Census QuickStats about national highlights

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: September 2013 quarter

Statistics NZ: Definitions – About the Household Labour Force Survey

Radio NZ: Unemployment rate falls as more give up job hunt

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18 percent of 18-24 year olds unemployed

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 5 February 2014.

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Un-employment; under-employment; and the plain unvarnished truth… *** UP DATE ***

11 February 2014 2 comments

Continued from: Un-employment; under-employment; and the plain unvarnished truth

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Unemployed under-employment

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Additional to my original blogpost on The Daily Blog on 6 February.

In up-coming unemployment stats, I’ll be focusing on the Jobless and under-employed numbers, as well as the narrower “unemployed” stats from the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS). It is evident from the numbers of under-employed and the extremely narrow defining on what constitutes an unemployed person, that we are not getting the full picture from the HLFS.

Coupled to that, the Census last year revealed unemployment to be at an astonishing 7.1% whilst Roy Morgan poll (5 December 2013) had the figure at 8.5%.

By comparison, the HLFS (at roughly the same time) had unemployment at 6.2%.

So unemployment stats ranged from 6.2% (HLFS) to 8.5% (Roy Morgan).

Coupled to that is the narrow definition of the HLFS used by Statistics NZ (see below), and we begin to see why the “official unemployment rate” appears more ‘benign’.

From the January 2014 Parliamentary report, Unemployment and employment statistics: the Household Labour Force Survey in context;

The Reserve Bank has expressed concern at its variance with other indicators. [2]   A commentator in the Westpac Bulletin, puzzled by the continued weakness of the HLFS in 2012 compared to the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) and other labour market indicators, described it as ‘confusion reigns’ and suggested that survey ‘volatility’ played a role. [3]   The ANZ commentator is cautious: ‘The HLFS has been very volatile in recent years, and we and the Reserve Bank will treat the result with a degree of scepticism, preferring to take note of a wide range of labour market indicators.’ [4]  

These broader labour market indicators include external ones such as business and consumer surveys and job advertisements. These are in addition to those derived from official statistics such as changes in the employment and labour force participation rates, full- and part-time work, and hours worked, together with fine-grained analysis of changes by region, industry and age.

Various reasons for the volatility of the unemployment rate and its variance with other labour market indicators have been discussed – the impact of the recession, the dynamic nature of the labour market, the survey nature of the HLFS, and differences in coverage of the statistics. It has been suggested that the HLFS is more volatile at a turning point – either going into or out of recession…

The latest Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) stats;

Officially unemployed stats;

The unemployment rate decreased over the quarter, down 0.2 percentage points to 6.0 percent. This decrease reflected 2,000 fewer people being unemployed [147,000]. The fall in unemployment was from fewer men unemployed.

Official unemployment: down

The  under-employment stats;

Over the year, the total number of under-employed people increased by 27,200 to 122,600. As a result, the under-employment rate increased 1.0 percentage points to 5.3 percent.

Official under-employment: up

The HLFS Jobless  stats;

In the year to December 2013, the number of people in the jobless category fell 27,400 to 257,100. Alongside the 15,000 fall in the number of people unemployed, there was also a 10,200 fall in the number of people without a job who were available for work but not actively seeking.

Official Jobless: down

Source

Observation #1: Under-employment is increasing, which brings into question how effective the “drop” in unemployment and Jobless actually is. As being “employed” is defined as working for one hour (or more) per week; with or without pay: the whole statistical reporting of true unemployment in New Zealand is now called into question. Especially with regards to the next point.

Observation  #2: “A 10,200 fall in the number of people without a job who were available for work but not actively seeking” signifies that the drop in Unemployment/Jobless can also be attributed to people giving up, as this Radio NZ report stated in February last year (2013).

Observation #3: As stated in the “Definitions” below, a person who is job seeking only through newspapers is not considered in the “Unemployed” category, but under the wider “Jobless” definition. Considering that a number of  households  cannot afford the internet, and do not qualify for WINZ registration, this makes a sizeable “chunk” of unemployed effectively invisible.

Observation #4: The above Observation suits successive governments, which are desperate to report lower unemployed so as to gain support from voters.

 

Definitions

Jobless: people who are either officially unemployed, available but not seeking work, or actively seeking but not available for work. The ‘available but not seeking work’ category is made up of the ‘seeking through newspaper only’, ‘discouraged’, and ‘other’ categories.

Under-employment: employed people who work part time (ie usually work less than 30 hours in all jobs) and are willing and available to work more hours than they usually do.

Employed: people in the working-age population who, during the reference week, did one of the following:

  • worked for one hour or more for pay or profit in the context of an employee/employer relationship or self-employment 

  • worked without pay for one hour or more in work which contributed directly to the operation of a farm, business, or professional practice owned or operated by a relative 

  • had a job but were not at work due to: own illness or injury, personal or family responsibilities, bad weather or mechanical breakdown, direct involvement in an industrial dispute, or leave or holiday.

Source

Up-coming unemployment stats will focus  on  Jobless and under-employed numbers, as well as the more restrictive “unemployed” stats from the HLFS. Hopefully this will create a more comprehensive ‘snapshot’ of what is happening in the jobs ‘market’.

Further Information

“4 out of 5 New Zealand homes had access to the Internet, up 5 percent since 2009.”

– Statistics NZ

The corollary to that is that one in five households – a staggering 20%! – do not have internet access.

Which means that job seekers on little or no income (especially if they do not qualify for WINZ support) may rely solely on newspapers to look for jobs.

But as I’ve reported above, using a newspaper to be job-seeking does not quality you as “unemployed”.

20%.

That’s quite a number.

No wonder of official unemployment stats are dodgy as hell.

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References

NZ Parliament: Unemployment and employment statistics: the Household Labour Force Survey in context

Roy Morgan:  New Zealand real unemployment steady at 8.5% and a further 11.3% (up 2.7%) of workforce are under-employed

Roy Morgan:  Roy Morgan measures real unemployment in Australia not the “perception” of unemployment

Statistics NZ: 2013 Census QuickStats about national highlights

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: September 2013 quarter

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: December 2013 quarter

Statistics NZ: Definitions – About the Household Labour Force Survey

Statistics NZ: Household Use of Information and Communication Technology: 2012

Radio NZ: Unemployment rate falls as more give up job hunt

Previous related blogpost

The REAL level of unemployment

Roy Morgan Poll: Unemployment and Under-employment up in New Zealand!

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18 percent of 18-24 year olds unemployed

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 9 February 2014.

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Un-employment; under-employment; and the plain unvarnished truth…

11 February 2014 3 comments

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Continued from:    Roy Morgan Poll: Unemployment and Under-employment up in New Zealand!

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Unemployment logo

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This is the plain, unvarnished truth that most New Zealanders don’t know; don’t understand, and quite frankly, many do not want to know or understand. For many – especially National/Act supporters living in their own fantasyland – this is the reality that would shatter their comfortable upper-middle-class world-view.

First, read Mike Treen’s excellent analysis on The Daily Blog, on 30 January;

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EXCLUSIVE - Billions of dollars stolen from the unemployed

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(Note the pathetic and largely ineffectual attempts by right wing blogger; self-proclaimed “social welfare expert”; and ex-Act candidate, Lindsay Mitchell, and one or two other National Party supporters to undermine Mike’s analysis. They are unable to address or answer even the most simple points Mike and others have raised.)

Then, read Matt McCarten’s piece in the NZ Herald, a few days later;

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Matt McCarten - Rose-tinted view cruel fairy tales

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And now, here’s the ‘kicker‘;

According to Statistics New Zealand, which carries out both the five yearly Census as well as the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS), the definition of an employed person is so loose and wide-ranging as to make the term meaningless;

Definitions

About the Household Labour Force Survey

The Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) provides a regular, timely, and comprehensive portrayal of New Zealand’s labour force. Each quarter, Statistics NZ produces a range of statistics relating to employment, unemployment, and people not in the labour force.

The survey started in October 1985 and the first results published were for the March 1986 quarter.

More definitions

The labour force category to which a person is assigned depends on their actual activity during a survey reference week.

This section includes definitions used in the HLFS release. These conform closely to the international standard definitions specified by the International Labour Organization.

Employed: people in the working-age population who, during the reference week, did one of the following:

  • worked for one hour or more for pay or profit in the context of an employee/employer relationship or self-employment 

  • worked without pay for one hour or more in work which contributed directly to the operation of a farm, business, or professional practice owned or operated by a relative 

  • had a job but were not at work due to: own illness or injury, personal or family responsibilities, bad weather or mechanical breakdown, direct involvement in an industrial dispute, or leave or holiday.

So, if youworked for one hour” – even without pay! ” – you are automatically classed as employed by this country’s statisticians.

No wonder that the Roy Morgan poll consistently reports that New Zealand has a higher unemployment rate than is generally reported by Statistic NZ’s HLFS or Census.

Quite simply,

  • It appears that our stats are horribly wrong and are under-stating the severity of unemployment in New Zealand by several degrees of magnitude,
  • Lower unemployment figures suit the agendas of successive governments (National, as well as Labour-led),
  • Community organisations are over-worked struggling to put  band-aids on the growing problem of hidden unemployment,
  • New Zealand as a whole suffers through loss of productivity; increasing costs due to poverty; and other socio-economic problems.

When a government agency purports to measure employment and unemployment, and defines being employed as “working for one hour or more”, either paid or unpaid, those are not statistics – they are a sick joke. In effect, we are fooling ourselves as a nation that we have “low unemployment”.

These are not facts – they are propaganda; half-truths; mis-information; lies-dressed-up-as-comforting-facts. The reality – unpalatable as it may be for many – is that our unemployment is much, much worse than we have been led to believe.

If New Zealanders want to keep up this pretense, they will eventually have to “pay the Piper”, as societal problems worsen. And then, the rioting begins.

Note: For future reference, any subsequent use of Statistics NZ data referring to unemployment, in any upcoming blogposts,  will carry the caveat;

Definition of Employed (by Statistics NZ) includes any person who is;

  • anyone working for only one hour (or more)
  • anyone not paid for their labour

Accordingly, Statistics NZ information may not present a fully accurate picture of this country’s unemployment/employment rates.”

*** Up-date ***

The HLFS results for the December 2013 Quarter reported a “drop” in unemployment from 6.2% to 6.0%.

Interestingly, as Radio NZ reported, “the fall in unemployment did not match the pick up in jobs, due to more people searching for work“.

This ties in with the fact that “employment” is defined as anyone working for one hour (or more).

If more people are looking for work, this suggests any number of factors,

  • The HLFS survey is failing to pick up accurate numbers of unemployment,
  • Statistics NZ’s definition for unemployed is too narrow,
  • The number of under-employed is (as Roy Morgan reveals) so high as to mask real unemployment.

Also interesting to note that the drop in the HLFS survey results mirror the fall in Roy Morgans polling, further lending credibility to the latter.

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References

NZ Parliament: Unemployment and employment statistics: the Household Labour Force Survey in context

Statistics NZ: Hours Worked in Employment

Scoop News:  New Zealand Real Unemployment at 9.1%

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: June 2012 quarter

The Daily Blog: EXCLUSIVE: Billions of dollars stolen from the unemployed

NZ Herald: Matt McCarten: Rose-tinted view cruel fairy tales

Roy Morgan: New Zealand real unemployment down 0.3% to 8.5% and a further 8.6% (down 1%) of workforce are under-employed

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: September 2013 quarter

Scoop News: Inequality keeps rising, says UC social research expert

Statistics NZ:  Labour market statistics for the December 2013 quarter

Radio NZ: Unemployment falls to 6 percent

Previous related blogposts

The REAL level of unemployment

Roy Morgan Poll: Unemployment and Under-employment up in New Zealand!

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unemployed welfare beneficiaries paula bennett

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 February 2014.

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The REAL level of unemployment…

20 December 2013 16 comments

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Job-Hunting-10-Tips-for-When-Your-Unemployment-Checks-Stop

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Current unemployment/employment statistics provided by Statistics NZ through the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) have been called into question with the release of poll data from two other sources.

Current HLFS stats have unemployment falling to its current level of 6.2% – from a height of 7.3% last year,

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Unemployment Rate - 2008 - 2013

Source

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The HLFS stats appear to put a positive, downward ‘spin’ on New Zealand’s unemployment rates. All good news for the current National-led government that is desperate for good news as it faces an election next year – and probable defeat.

However, on 5 December, Roy Morgan released the shock results of an nationwide poll, showing unemployment as well as  under-employment much higher than the Household Labour Force Survey has been reporting,

New Zealand unemployment was 8.5% (down 0.3% since the June Quarter 2013) of the 2,629,000 in the NZ workforce – an estimated 223,000 (down 5,000) were unemployed and looking for work.

A further 8.6% (down 1%) of the workforce* were under-employed – that is working part-time but looking for more work – 227,000 (down 23,000) New Zealanders.

In total 17.1% of the workforce (450,000, down 28,000) New Zealanders were either unemployed or under-employed.

The latest Roy Morgan unemployment estimate of 8.5% is now 2.3% above the 6.2% currently quoted by Statistics New Zealand for the September Quarter 2013.

Source

Curiously, this poll result was not reported (as far as this blogger can determine) by any mainstream media.

A subsequent  report – again released by Statistics NZ – revealed  the Census 2013 results on unemployment. The results were once again higher than the HLFS,

  • There were 2,001,006 employed adults (people aged 15 years and over) in 2013. Those who were employed made up 62.3 percent of adults, down from 65.0 percent in 2006.
  • Unemployment increased since 2006, but was slightly lower than in 2001. The unemployment rates for the last three censuses were:
    • 2013 – 7.1 percent
    • 2006 – 5.1 percent
    • 2001 – 7.5 percent.
  • Unemployment was higher for the 15–24 year age group than for the labour force overall. In 2013, the unemployment rate for this age group was 18.4 percent.

Source

The Census survey not only revealed that unemployment is much higher than the HLFS (7.1%, instead of 6.2%), but that youth unemployment was 18.4% – an increase from  the 2006 Census result of 13.3%.

The data table below tells the full story,

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Unemployment Rate - 2013 Census

IBID

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Not only are the 2013 Census result and HLFS at odds with each other , but made a damning indictment on the National-led government prior to 2000. Unemployment in the 2001 Census is shown at 7.5% – a legacy of the Bolger/Shipley administrations of the 1990s.

As a side-note, the Census confirmed the decline of  manufacturing  with 29,472 (13.5%) fewer people currently  employed in this industry than in 2006.

Interestingly, whilst HLFS unemployment for March 2006 is reported by Statistics NZ to be 4%,

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Unemployment Rate - 2006

Source

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– the 2006 Census gave a higher result of 5.1% (see above table). The Census results appear to be consistently higher than the HLFS – and most likely more accurate.

The implications of this are not hard to miss; unemployment (and under-employment) are much worse than we have realised.

Not only is this a drag on our economy (like a ship at sea dragging it’s anchor along the ocean-bottom, and wondering why it can’t pick up speed) – but the social consequences must be enormous.

More than ever, this should serve as a wake-up call to any government with a modicum of common sense that allowing job-creation to be left to the “free market” is fraught with uncertainty at best – and a massive failure at worst.

We have listened to 30 years of promises from successive politicians that the neo-liberal model will provide more jobs; higher pay; and growth.

None of those promises have eventuated and on top of which, as former Assistant Auditor-General Bruce Anderson stated in his report, Public Sector Financial Sustainability”,

Kiwis also feel good about themselves. New Zealand rates highly for tolerance, interpersonal trust and life satisfaction, the report says. That is just as well because the country probably needs that “social capital” to offset the negatives faced by the economy.

[…]

Those include increasing income inequality, with New Zealand one of the least equal in terms of market income in the OECD from one of the most equal 30 years ago. The country also shows disturbing social trends, including high youth suicide, teen fertility and unemployment.”

Source

In the same report, Anderson also referred to private borrowing ballooning to 140% of GDP (thanks to massive borrowing from overseas to finance our penchant for property speculation) whilst at the same time our economic performance was mediocre.

If we are to re-build a fairer society where everyone who wants can find work; good wages for a good day’s work; and an opportunity to own our home, then the economic model we have been pursuing must change.

For clues to the change we so desperately need,  the Christchurch Re-build has offered us one.

Canterbury (along with Auckland) has bucked the trend in terms of  reducing unemployment,

The Household Labour Force Survey, released today, shows employment in the Canterbury region rose by 2100 people, an increase of 0.6 percent.

Unemployment figures for the region decreased by 4000 people or 21.3 percent, most of which came from men who showed a decrease of 3800 unemployed.

Overall the Canterbury unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in the March quarter.  

Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate was 6.2% (in reality 7.1%, according to the Census).

The lesson here is simple for all but the most ideologically blind; where there are jobs, people will work.

Where jobs do not exist, unemployment will result.

The so-called “free” market has failed to deliver those jobs – most of which have been exported overseas to low-waged societies.

As David Cull, mayor of Dunedin angrily said in June 2011, when it was announced that Kiwirail would award a contract to purchase rail-wagons from South Korea and China, inside of building them at the Hillside workshops,

This is frankly a form of economic vandalism. What are we mounting here? An economic development strategy for China?”

Source

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catching-up-with-bangladesh

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That decision alone  cost the city of Dunedin over a hundred jobs (at the very least) plus millions in lost wages and down-stream business. The same has been repeated all over New Zealand; lost jobs; lost wages; depressed regions – and a growth in the social welfare cost to taxpayers.

If, after 30 years, the Rogernomics experiment has not delivered the results we were promised – just how long will we have to wait?

Just how long does it take to learn a lesson if we keep repeating the same mistakes, year after year, decade after decade?

Because really, 153,210 people would like an answer.

Meanwhile, as a reminder to us all,

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Budget 2011 - Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs

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Are we there yet?

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 December 2013.

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Sources

TV1:  Budget 2011 – Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs (19 May 2011)

TV1 News:  KiwiRail under fire over job cuts (9 June 2011)

NZ Herald: Unemployment up to 7.3pc – a 13 year high (8 Nov 2012)

TV3:  Canterbury employment rate rises (9 May 2013)

NBR: NZ’s first world aspirations based on economy ‘harvesting water’ (6 June 2013)

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: September 2013 quarter (6 Nov 2013)

Roy Morgan: New Zealand real unemployment down 0.3% to 8.5% and a further 8.6% (down 1%) of workforce are under-employed (5 Dec 2013)

References

2006 Census

2013 Census

Trading Economics:  New Zealand Unemployment Rate

Previous related blogposts

Can we do it? Bloody oath we can!

2013 – Ongoing jobless talley

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Dispatches from Planet Key…

1 December 2012 5 comments

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key-loves-you

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This week has been a busy one for Dear Leader…

Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement

Perhaps the most far-ranging trade agreement that New Zealand has been involved with, since CER with Australia took effect in 1983, the TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement) is currently under negotiation between eleven nations (including New Zealand).

Negotiations are  being held in absolute secrecy, with no Parliamentary or public oversight. Quite simply, New Zealanders have no idea what National is signing up to, until the deed is done and we are committed to god-knows-what.

There are suggestions that part of the TPPA may contain,

(1) The right of corporations to sue governments for “loss of profits”. This is no better illustrated than the recent attempt by tobacco companies to force the Australian government to back down over plans to introduce plain-packaging in that country. (See: Tobacco packaging: cigarette companies lose Australian court case)

Tobacco manufacturer, Philip Morris, moved it’s subsidiary shares from Australia to Hong Kong so as to exploit a 1993 trade agreement between the two jurisdictions and was thus able to sue the Australian government. (See:  Smoke signals: plans of Big Tobacco plain to see)

This barely-concealed attempt to exploit an obscure trade agreement should serve as a sign of things to come.

(2) Stricter intellectual property rights that may undermine Pharmac’s ability to buy cheaper, generic medicines, after patents have expired.

It is by this process that PHARMAC  can purchase cheaper drugs from overseas and pass those savings on to all New Zealanders.  The US pharmaceutical industry recognises the threat that PHARMAC poses to their profits – especially if the PHARMAC-model is adopted by other nations.

More of what pharmaceutical corporations are demanding can be found in this article, by  Keira Stephenson; TPPA could ‘gut’ Pharmac, say critics.

John Key recently stated,

We’re not prepared to see dairy excluded. And in terms of abolition, yeah, I mean that’s the aim. There might be a time frame under which clearly there’ll be a phase out. But in the end New Zealand can’t sign up to the TPP if it excludes our biggest export.”

See: Key says NZ won’t sign up to TPP unless dairy included

Key also said it would “not a good look” if  concessions undermined the status of  Pharmac.

See: Ibid

Unfortunately, we have good reason to be concerned. If past experience is anything to go by, John Key’s reassurances are mostly meaningless and more changeable than our weather.  Key has changed his position on matters such as,

If there is one thing we’ve come to expect from John Key – he can flip-flop on his promises and committments with all the ease of  a Nigerian scammer.

So when Dear Leader says he is committed to…

We’re not prepared to see dairy excluded. And in terms of abolition, yeah, I mean that’s the aim. There might be a time frame under which clearly there’ll be a phase out. But in the end New Zealand can’t sign up to the TPP if it excludes our biggest export “…

And,   it would “not a good look” if  concessions undermined the status of  Pharmac…

We should immediately be concerned.

The man is simply not to be trusted.

Corporate welfare

In October 2010,  Key categorically rejected spending taxpayers money on corporate welfare for the movie industry,

Mr Key reiterated that the Government was prepared to move at the margins when it came to money but it did not have an open chequebook.

He said Warner Bros were asking for “lots and we’re not offering lots”.

“If it’s just simply a matter of dollars and cents, I’m just not going to write out cheques that New Zealand can’t afford.”

See: PM: I’m not going to write cheques NZ can’t afford

Two years later, and our Prime Minister is dishing out taxpayers money to the movie industry like it’s growing on trees,

The Government wants to offer better incentives to get more foreign TV shows filmed in New Zealand.

Prime Minister John Key, in Matamata yesterday for the opening of the Green Dragon Pub at the Hobbiton Movie Set Tours, said attracting television series was the next step to aiding the creative industry after movie work such as Sir Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit.

“Blockbuster movies are very, very large … but they have big peaks and troughs and during the troughs that’s really difficult for people working in that field, so we can fill those gaps with television,” Mr Key said.

Under Mr Key’s lead the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Film Commission and the Inland Revenue Department are jointly reviewing the incentives offered to overseas producers to film TV series in New Zealand.

See: Key talks up sweeteners for TV

And yet, on 16 September this year, Key specifically rejected all suggestions of subsidies to other industries – especially exporters – to help save jobs,

But there will always be job losses, Shane. There will always be parts of the economy where, for whatever reason, there’s a change in pattern. So years ago, we all did different things from what we’re doing today. The point for New Zealand is if we’re going to sell more to the world than we buy from the world, if we’re going to earn our way in the world and not spend more than we earn, then we have to have a highly focused, competitive economy. And we need to have three things: access to capital, access to markets and access to skilled labour.

[…]

If I just take you back to your point, many of the countries you are pointing to that are paying out these levels of subsidies are backed up by governments that are hugely indebted. So the whole problem in Europe, the whole reason why you’re seeing countries like Spain, like Greece and right through Southern Europe in the sort of mess they are is they have huge levels of government debt. So the answer in New Zealand is not necessarily coming up with a make-work scheme funded off taxpayers’ taxes. It comes off New Zealand having a competitive industry, making sure that we have flexible labour markets, making sure that we are investing in things that will make the economy go faster, like science and innovation.”

See: TVNZ Q+A Interview with Prime Minister John Key

When it comes to holding two diametrically opposed beliefs, simultaneously, (aka ‘doublethink‘)  John Key excels.

I cannot recall any politician in the last forty years who can flip-flop so easily on any given issue.

Statistics & John Key

When the Household Labourforce survey was made public on 8 November, the data showed a dramatic leap in unemployment from 6.8% to 7.3%. (See: Unemployment up to 7.3pc – a 13 year high) There are now at least 175,000 people without work in this country.

Dear Leader’s response?

He rejected the figures outright, in this Fairfax story,

In the end these things bounce around quite a bit… it’s at odds with what most of the economists thought would happen. Like a lot of surveys, from time to time, it can produced usual data, let’s see what happens in the next one. But it’s not going to make the Government change tack.  These are challenging international conditions … but I don’t think we should change course I think we’re on the right track. “

See: Shock rise in unemployment to 7.3pc

On TVNZ’s Q+A, on 25 November, Key was just as  reluctant to accept the HLFS results,

The Household Labour Force Survey is a survey. It’s a survey of 15,000 people. It has a quite significant margin of error and it bounces around a lot. Quite a number of the bank economists, in their review of the last number, said it’s notoriously volatile. So I can’t tell you whether it might go up a little bit or go down a little bit. What I can tell you is that’s not the relevant point. The relevant point is is the government doing everything it can to create an environment to allow businesses to create jobs?

See:  TVNZ Q+A Interview with Prime Minister John Key

Which makes it even stranger and more comical when – having trashed the reliability of the Household Labour Force Survey over the last month – he suddenly invokes the very same Household Labour Force Survey to back up his position (which depends on what day it is),

There’s always a range of different data series. QS [Quarterly Survey?] is one. That’s obviously another. Household Labour Force is another. All I can tell you is we’ve looked at [garbled gibberish] … The concensus view and that was the previous government’s view as well, is that HLFS was the best measure of the economy. Sometimes it produces numbers I don’t like. But if you look at their data series what they are saying is, in broad terms, over the last four years, the number of jobs in manufacturing is roughly about the same.” – John Key, 27 November 2012

Source: Radio NZ – PM rejects jobs statistics

It is fairly obvious to the ordinary bloke and blokette in the street that relying on John Key’s word will generally result in disappointment.

Back to Pharmac, the TPPA, and John Key’s “reassurances”

Last year, on 13 June, Fairfax reporter Nikki MacDonald wrote an excellent piece on how TPPA negotiations may impact on Pharmac’s drug-buying policies,

 Pharmac was established in 1993, to rein in rocketing drug costs and distance the government from drug-buying decisions. Its task is to spend its $710 million annual budget to achieve the best health gains for Kiwis.

Broadly, Pharmac works by referring drug-company funding applications to the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee, made up of senior doctors and pharmacists, to examine whether or not the drug is effective, and whether it is significantly better than anything else already on offer.

The committee then gives the drug a low, medium or high funding priority and Pharmac’s board decides whether or not its benefits justify the price tag.

Pharmac’s cost-benefit analysis, which takes into account average patient age and the number of good-quality years gained by the treatment (called quality adjusted life years, or QALYs), is similar to that in Australia’s scheme.

The major difference is that Australia funds everything meeting a given cost-effectiveness threshold.

New Zealand, on the other hand, has a fixed budget, so has to decide whether it can afford to fund a drug in any given year. Pharmac must also consider the opportunity cost of a funding decision – what do you sacrifice to spend $20 million on the latest cancer drug?

Pharmac uses various bargaining strategies so it can buy more for its drug dollar. These include:

Reference pricing: Where a newer, patented drug has similar benefits to a cheaper generic drug, Pharmac might subsidise the newer drug only to the same level as the lower-cost alternative. The drug company then either drops its drug price to the subsidy level, or the consumer pays the difference.

Sole-supply tenders: When a drug patent expires, Pharmac tenders to get the best price for a generic replacement. Drug companies can offer much cheaper deals because they’re assured of a large market share.

A 2004 price comparison found Australia paid up to 20 times more than New Zealand for some generic drugs, because it did not use tenders. (Legislation has now bridged some of that difference, by enforcing staged price drops for generic drugs.) A Canadian study found generic drugs were up to 93 per cent, and on average 58 per cent, cheaper in New Zealand.

Package deals: A costly new drug that works well but is not cost-effective can be funded by negotiating cheaper prices for other drugs made by the same pharmaceutical company. Glivec was funded using this method.

Negotiated contracts. On the numbers Pharmac has been spectacularly successful. In 1985, a basket of commonly prescribed drugs cost 37 per cent more in New Zealand than in Australia. Between 1993 and 2006 New Zealand’s drug spending grew by 11 per cent, while Australia’s soared by 212 per cent. Pharmac estimates its aggressive pricing policies save almost $1 billion a year.

See: Pharmac: The politics of playing god

Most New Zealands either have no idea what the potential impact on Pharmac may be, if US pharmaceutical companies get their way through TPPA negotiations – or are too busy watching the latest “Masterchef Botswana”, “X Factor Bolivia”, or gawking at a celebrity’s tits on some vacuous “reality” show.

It is only when Pharmac’s ability to buy cheap drugs is undermined by the full power of pharmaceutical companies, levied through the TPPA, and the costs for medicines suddenly doubles, trebles, quadruples, will New Zealanders wake up to the fact that we’ve been rorted.

And it all happened on the watch of  our  smiling, waving, Prime Minister – that ever so-nice Mr Key.

By then it will be too late.

So when Key  reassures New Zealanders that,

“…it would “not a good look” if New Zealand made concessions that undermined the status of its drug-buying agency, Pharmac.”

See: Mr Key, reiterated today NZ will not sign the Trans Pacific Partnership unless it provides for the abolition of tariffs on agriculture

See: No TPP deal unless dairy and Pharmac are in, says Key

See: TPPA could ‘gut’ Pharmac, say critics

… it is time to be worried.

Like all his other assurances, pledges, promises, and committments that have been broken or backtracked, our Prime Minister is not a man who stands by his word.

When it comes to the health of our economy, he has failed.

Let’s not allow him to do the same to our own health.

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Sources

US free-trade deal suspect (19 Dec 2010)

Pharmac: The politics of playing god (13 June 2011)

Pharmac faces trade ‘threat’ (26 Oct 2011)

Leaked TPPA document leaves NZ position on software patents unclear (22 June 2012)

Leaked document on Investor Rights to sue sovereign governments

No TPP deal unless dairy and Pharmac are in – Key (26 Nov 2012)

TPPA could ‘gut’ Pharmac, say critics (29 Nov 2012)

Navigating the choppy waters of the TPP (1 Dec 2012)

Right Wing Reaction

Anti-trade camp running debate (28 Nov 2012)

Other blogs

The Standard: TPP Negotiations Auckland next week

Tumeke: Citizen A TPP special with Professor Jane Kelsey & Lori Wallach

Gordon Campbell: Gordon Campbell on the NZ Herald’s attack on Jane Kelsey

Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow: TPP in crisis?

Werewolf: Into The Cave of Dreams – Trans Pacific Partnership

Werewolf: Selling the Farm – Trans Pacific Partnership

Werewolf: The Neutering Of Pharmac – Trans Pacific Partnership

Werewolf: Head First Into The Spaghetti Bowl – Trans Pacific Partnership

Public Citizen: Controversial Trade Pact Text Leaked, Shows U.S. Trade Officials Have Agreed to Terms That Undermine Obama Domestic Agenda

It’s Our Future

Groups

TPPA Action Group

Additional

NBR:  OPINION: TPP – Groser trades away tech to save agriculture

Fairfax:  CTU seeks answers over trade agreement

NBR:  Govt accused of ‘sellout’ on trade pact negotiations

NBR:  NZ must stay staunch on TPP

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Key: “I’ve left NZ in a better shape than I found it”

18 November 2012 23 comments

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Without a doubt, the following story by the NZ Herald on Key’s latest utterances deserves an Award for Outstanding Bullshitting – with a special mention for Self Delusion.

WARNING:  do not be drinking anything when you read this – not unless you can stop your gagging-reflex from spraying over your monitor and keyboard,

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Full story

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If Dear Leader truly believes that,

Personally, I think if I got hit by a bus this afternoon, I will have left New Zealand in a better shape than I found it.”

… then he is dangerously more out of touch with reality than the rest of us ever imagined.

But because John Key gives no indication of any head trauma or diagnosis for delusional psychosis, the only remaining option is that this was a pathetically weak attempt to shore up his Party’s waning public support.

Almost every poll has National’s voter support dropping. This blogger suspects very strongly that National’s own internal polling reveals a much more dramatic fall in public support – and that John Key’s credibility as an honest politician has taken some serious battering this year.

One poll in July of this year, by Fairfax/Ipsos, had this unflattering picture of Key,

A new poll has found Prime Minister John Key is increasingly becoming a polarising figure – especially among women.

The first Fairfax Media/Ipsos political poll shows National has enough support for a third term, 44.9 per cent to Labour’s 32.6 per cent, assuming the current mix of support parties. But it also reveals a growing divide, with many still strongly backing Key, but a growing sense of anger and distrust among others.

Interviewers asked 1000 people to describe Key in as few words as possible. The pollsters said many voters rated him a straight-shooter and good or excellent leader, but a significant number thought he was arrogant, smarmy and out of touch.

Key still has the confidence of an overwhelming majority – 63 per cent saying he had a clear vision for the country, and was a strong and effective leader.

See: ‘Polarising’ PM losing gloss

Since that poll, National’s support has dropped to 45% and Key’s personal support has plummeted to 42%, in a One News/ Colmar Brunton poll released on 4 November.

See: National support holds as Labour slips in poll

National is clearly in trouble with the public and Key’s extraordinary statement that  “I will have left New Zealand in a better shape than I found it ” is utterly laughable.

This blogger’s guess is that Key made this statement, off the cuff, and without his tax-payer funded spin doctors crafting a more credible message.

On almost every level, it is a demonstrably false assertion.

Looking at the facts on Planet Earth, rather than on Planet Key, we find the following;

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Unemployment

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When Key took office at the end of 2008, the household labour force survey reported unemployment at 4.6% or 105,000 real people.

See: EMPLOYMENT AND UNEMPLOYMENT – DECEMBER 2008 QUARTER

The latest household labour force survey released on 8 November this year had unemployment at 7.3% or 175,000 living, breathing people.

See: Household Labour Force Survey: September 2012 quarter

In other words, there are 75,000 more unemployed people now, than there was four years ago.

This blogger accepts that the Global Financial Crisis has been a major factor for rising unemployment, but three questions still remain to be answered,

  1. Why has National not done anything practical to counter the effects of the GFC, despite having four years to implements job-creation programmes?
  2. Why did National proceed with tax cuts in 2009 and 2010 when the lost tax-revenue could have been used for upskilling; job creation; building new houses to meet our critical housing shortage; etc?
  3. Why does National continue to blame the unemployed for being unemployed, when they – the Nats –  play the GFC Card when ever it suits them, as an excuse?

Report Card: F – Total Fail

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Economic growth

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Retail

Retail Trade  dropped from NZ$18.8 buillion in December 2011 to the current NZ$16.8 billion, in September,

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Sourc:  Reserve Bank of New Zealand

This constitutes a $2 billion drop in retail activity.

By comparison, the drop from December 2010 to September 2011 was less –  NZ$900  million.  (See: Reserve Bank A1 Domestic trade)

Balance of Trade

Our Balance of Trade has definitly worsened since November 2008, when the Global Financial Crisis had begun to impact on our export sector,

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Source: Trading Economics New Zealand Balance of Trade

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In part, this may be due to our high dollar, which makes our exports less profitable – but makes imports (consumer goods, fuel, building materials, plant & equipment, etc) cheaper. However, whilst this may benefit one sector of our economy, it means that we are not paying our way with our trading partners.

Economists are expecting the figures to worsen in the coming months and year,

The annual current account deficit has widened to 4.8 per cent of GDP and economists expect it will keep getting worse, with sharply falling export prices and rising demand for imports.

The current account records the balance of trade between New Zealand and the rest of the world for goods and services, net investment income and net transfers.

ANZ economists said the 4.8 per cent figure was worse than market expectations and given the worsening trade position with lower commodity prices, the deficit was trending closer to the 5 per cent of GDP “danger zone” for international lenders.

The falling value of dairy exports and a drop in spending by tourists after the Rugby World Cup have seen the current account deficit worsen by $600 million to $2.8 billion, seasonally adjusted, for the March quarter.

That takes the annual deficit back up to $9.7 billion for the year to March 31 or 4.8 per cent of GDP according to latest Statistics NZ figures out earlier today. The deficit was equal to 4.2 per cent of GDP in the December year. “

See: Deficit expected to worsen

Wages

Despite JohnKeys perennial promises (see previous blogpost:  John Key’s track record on raising wages – preface), wages have not risen to anywhere near Australia’s levels.

In fact, wage rises in the last four years have not matched those under the previous Labour government, despite Dear Leader’s pledges and claims to the contrary,

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Source: http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/income-and-work/Income/NZIncomeSurvey_HOTPJun12qtr.aspx

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As Statistics NZ states in it’s June Quarter report,

In the year to the June 2012 quarter, there was no significant increase in:

  • median weekly income from all sources – up 1.8 percent from $550 to $560
  • median weekly income for those receiving income from wages and salaries – up $6 (0.7 percent) to $806
  • median hourly earnings – up 48 cents (2.4 percent) to $20.86.”

New Zealanders are generally not fools, and many have taken to voting with their feet to where there are better opportunities for jobs, wages, housing, etc…

See also: John Key’s track record on raising wages – 9. Conclusion

Migration

Migration to Australia was one of John Key’s major election platforms in 2008. He was scathing of Labour and the exodus of New Zealanders to Australia,

We want to make New Zealand an attractive place for our children and grandchildren to live – including those who are currently living in Australia, the UK, or elsewhere. To stem that flow so we must ensure Kiwis can receive competitive after-tax wages in New Zealand.

[…]

One of National’s key goals, should we lead the next Government, will be to stem the flow of New Zealanders choosing to live and work overseas.  We want to make New Zealand an attractive place for our children and grandchildren to live – including those who are currently living in Australia, the UK, or elsewhere. To stem that flow so we must ensure Kiwis can receive competitive after-tax wages in New Zealand.  We must cut taxes and grow our economy, and National will have policies to ensure both occur.”  – John Key,  6 September 2008

See: Speech: Environment Policy Launch

I don’t want our talented young people leaving permanently for Australia, the US, Europe, or Asia, because they feel they have to go overseas to better themselves. That’s why this Government is focused squarely on improving New Zealand’s economic performance. And to be frank, New Zealand’s economic performance over a number of years has been disappointing. ” – John Key, 15 July 2009

See: Speech to Business Breakfast hosted by Cullen Law

The result? Wholly predictable by now,

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Full story

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As the NZ Herald story reported,

The number of New Zealanders moving across the Tasman hit a record 53,000 in the year to February, but the unemployment rate at home and Australia’s new tax breaks that would make millions better off are tipped to lift that number.”

As Massey University sociologist Paul Spoonley stated on  TV1 on 3 September,

We can’t afford to bleed the numbers of people we see leaving for Australia. We can’t afford to lose the skills. We’ve got to do something.”

Key’s response,

Maybe we want to think about doing a bit more [mining] to encourage people to stay. It’s been a 40-year problem, and if we want to resolve it, we need to get on top of all of those issues.”

Oh really? “Maybe we want to think about doing a bit more “?! Gosh, Mr Key – you think?

Key’s statement encapsulates one  simple reality; that his  inept “government”  is utterly clueless. Dear Leader does not even know whose responsibility it is to create jobs;

Last year;

We agree with you, it’s the government’s responsibility to do everything within it’s powers to try to get people jobs.” – John Key, 17 November2011

See: Key and Goff Q&A: Creating jobs

This year;

Nothing creates jobs and boosts incomes better than business growth. For New Zealand to build a more productive and competitive economy, we need more innovative companies out there selling their products on the world stage.” – John Key, 24 August 2012

See: Key Notes: Honouring our fallen soldiers

Whenever National does become proactive, it tinkers with labour laws which will ultimately have the effect of driving down wages. This, in turn simply accelerates the flow of Kiwis to Australia and elsewhere.

Export Industry

On the other hand, when exporters cry out for relief from a high Kiwi Dollar that is ruining their trade, National either ignores their plight, or derides any possible remedies.

As president of the New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Managing Director of two export companies, Brian Willoughby, said in utter desperation,

I’m concerned that this vitally important discussion is degenerating to the point that it is the guy with the biggest foghorn that is going to get heard the most. The Government had the biggest foghorn.

What is starting to irritate me is, here I am just down the road in Christchurch, representing manufacturers producing $2.6 billion [worth of product]. So why doesn’t someone from the Prime Minister’s department pop along and see me? I am far easier to get in touch with than the guys in Hollywood, and I don’t need any special concessions. The ones I need are the same ones with the dollar that the film industry needs.

But the issue is to develop a more balanced economy.

There are a whole lot of people [in manufacturing] who are hanging on by the skin of their teeth and there are a whole lot of redundancies going on that the public never hears about.

The other thing that is poorly understood is that manufacturing jobs support three jobs outside – the courier guy, the guy that cleans the towels, the cafes near the factory. We have the contractors and suppliers – the guy that supplies the nuts and bolts and screws, the guy that does the laser cutting, the guy that does the painting, the guy that does the polishing, the guy that provides the plating service.”

It’s wrong to sit on our hands and say there is nothing that we can do.

We need a proper debate because it is extremely important to the New Zealand economy as a whole, not just to my members. In the long run, exporters ensure that we have a reasonable standard of living. If we can’t sell off-shore with good added value margins, we’ll go broke.

See: Soaring NZ dollar has industries in discussion

The Herald story goes on to reveal that Willoughby’s two Christchurch-based companies together employ twenty people. A year and a half ago, it was thirty.

On 25 October, Reserve Bank Governor, was forced to concede,

Offsetting this, fiscal consolidation is constraining demand growth, and the high New Zealand dollar is undermining export earnings and encouraging substitution toward imported goods and services.”

See: OCR unchanged at 2.5 percent

Our export sector is being damaged by our over-valued dollar (pushed up by speculators); profits are down; and redundancies are occurring.

Meanwhile, John Key smiles and waves and does nothing except make derogatory comments against visiting sports people.

Report Card: E – Verging on Total Fail

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Crime

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One of Key’s oft stated “successes” is that “crime has dropped”.

That may well be. But their may be several factors involved here,

New Zealand’s crime rate has dropped to an all-time low, latest figures reveal.

The annual crime statistics released by the police today showed recorded crime dropped 5.2 per cent on the previous year.

There were 394,522 recorded offences in the 2011-2012 fiscal year, compared with 416,324 the previous year – a decrease of 21,802 offences.

New Zealand’s population increased by 0.7 per cent during the period, resulting in a 5.9 per cent decrease in the number of offences recorded per 10,000 of population.”

And as well,

The largest decrease was in Canterbury, where recorded crime fell by 11.7 per cent.

Following the earthquakes there was a sudden large decrease in recorded theft and property damage offences.

Less serious offences reduced the most.

Although small by value, these offences are large by volume.

This decrease appears to be partly due to the public not wanting to bother us with minor matters when they knew we were dealing with the earthquake,” Mr Rickard said.”

See: NZ crime rate at all-time low – Police

Interesting, eh?

The biggest decrease occurred in the Canterbury region in the same year as the February earthquake that killed 185 people.

Surely Dear Leader is not going to take credit for something that a natural disaster caused?! Of course he will.

This is John Key we’re talking about.

Report Card: none (someone nicked it)

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Conclusion

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As is usual for John Key, his statements often contain loose “facts”; half-truths; and often outright untruths. His claim that “if I got hit by a bus this afternoon, I will have left New Zealand in a better shape than I found it ” is patently false.

On almost every indicator known to humanity, New Zealand is nowhere near “in a better shape than [Key]  found it “. Not unless he is using voodoo socio-economic ‘science’ that the rest of us are not privy to?

Perhaps they originate from Planet Key?

On an end note, I leave the reader with not just the results of my Fact Checking – but this dire warning from economists,

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Source

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Roll on 2014.

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Jobs, jobs, everywhere – but not a one for me?

12 June 2012 9 comments

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Every so often, we see media articles like this recent ‘Herald‘ report,

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Full Story

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The story presents a picture of lazy, unprepared, unwilling unemployed – the usual cliched stereotype so beloved by the right wing who begrudge spending their taxes on a social welfare net (but at the same time prefer to live in a First World society without beggars lining the streets like some Third World, poverty-stricken nation).

The story refers to unemployment at 6.7% – and fails to mention that in December 2007, unemployment stood at 3.4% – placing us fifth fifth among  twentyseven OECD nations, behind Norway, The Netherlands, South Korea and Denmark.

In fact, contrast the above story with this one from the Herald, four years ago,

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Full Story

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The two headings could not be more contrasting – polar-opposites, in fact,

The miracle of full employment

 Monday April 7, 2008

Jobless unprepared for realities of workforce

Sunday May 27, 2012

A further scrutiny of the first story reveals the following;

  • A grand-total of four employers were interviewed
  • Two of the four offered minimum wage, two did not specify the rate offered
  • The jobs are not specified whether full time, part time, or casual
  • One employer admits that some  employees had walked out, but she does not disclose why

Too many questions are left unanswered.

Reading between the lines, though, one gets the impression that we are not being given the full story.

After all, even on $13.50 an hour, the gross wage is $540 for a 40 hour week.

Contrast that to $229.01 a week (gross) unemployment benefit for someone 25 and over.

The minimum wage is barely livable – but still vastly preferable to the dole.  Our Rest Homes are staffed by hundreds of  hard-working, dedicated people earning $13.61 – just eleven cents above the dole,

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

Full Story

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Rest home work is hard and stressful – and yet we have people willing to put up with the pressures and  do the work necessary to look after our aged and infirm.

Which then poses questions as  to why the four employers in the top article are unable to attract and retain staff?

In this bloggers experience, employers who find it hard to attract and/or retain staff generally have “issues” with their managagement style; working conditions; pay and hours; and other related matters.

To further drive home some simple truths, these media reports should serve to dispel the nasty and manipulative myths surrounding those who are jobless,

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking

1000 apply for 150 K Mart jobs – Otago Daily Times – 11 June 1997

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking

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Lazy journalists who write inept stories without due diligence in research, and offering balance, add nothing to the sum total of human knowledge. Nor even a wee bit of insight as to what is really happening in our communities.

It’s easy-peasy to write a story that reinforces preconceived prejudices against a minority in society. No real talent required.

When politicians do it, it’s because they are utterly clueless and have no plan or policy to address unemployment. “Bene-bashing” is the de-fault setting of right-wing politicians who have no other options except to shift blame for poor economic activity onto the heads of welfare  recipients. (Because as we all know, the unemployed, solo-mums, widows, invalids, etc, are the ones who actually govern this country. Right?)

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But we expect better from journalists who are charged with asking questions; probing behind official lines; and holding our elected representatives to account.

Not assisting politicians’ to avoid responsibility.

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Media

Jobless unprepared for realities of workforce

The miracle of full employment

Unemployment rate lifts to 6.7pc

Reference

WINZ: Unemployment Benefit (as at 1 April 2012)

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A warning from a very, very rich man…

17 August 2011 1 comment

Warren Buffet is  regarded as one of the most successful investors in the world.  He is  ranked among the world’s wealthiest people and was ranked as the world’s wealthiest person in 2008. He is the third wealthiest person in the world as of 2011.

He is not a disaffected socialist, nor  “random leftie” – he has serious money in his bank account(s). So when this guy warns us that the wealthy are not paying their way, and have been “coddled by billionaire-friendly governments” – you know he’s saying something important.

And that we should take note…

Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.

To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.

Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.

The taxes I refer to here include only federal income tax, but you can be sure that any payroll tax for the 400 was inconsequential compared to income. In fact, 88 of the 400 in 2008 reported no wages at all, though every one of them reported capital gains. Some of my brethren may shun work but they all like to invest. (I can relate to that.)

I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.

Twelve members of Congress will soon take on the crucial job of rearranging our country’s finances. They’ve been instructed to devise a plan that reduces the 10-year deficit by at least $1.5 trillion. It’s vital, however, that they achieve far more than that. Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country’s fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness. That feeling can create its own reality.

Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.

But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.

(Warren E. Buffett is the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway.)

Buffet’s analysis holds true for New Zealand as much as it does for his own country, the USA.

In April 2009 and October 2010, this government awarded the highest income earners and the wealthiest the most in tax-cuts.

At the same time, the top ten wealthiest people in NZ (and probably others  throughout the world also increased their wealth by 20 percent) – whilst the rest of the global economy was wracked by the worst recession since the 1930s, and millions lost their jobs.

The old excuse that the “wealthy work hard and should be rewarded for their labours” no longer deserves to be taken seriously.  Most of us work hard, and long hours.

It is time that governments stopped coddling the rich. It’s not like they can take their wealth off-planet to Mars or elsewhere. The rich will still invest their vast wealth.

But it’s time they paid their fair share as the price of living in societies that gave them the opportunities to create their wealth.

It’s high time National looked at a fairer taxation system, and paid for the social services and job creation-friendly policies, rather than the top 10% of  the population and middle-class rich-wannabees.

Otherwise, prepare yourselves for a society of growing inequality.

So far, the indicators are not good…

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Well, I think the ‘message’ is reasonably clear for all but the most ideologically-blind.  Question is – what are we going to do about it?

(Hint: more of the same will probably not work.)

Great Myths Of The 21st Century (#1)

16 August 2011 7 comments

Perhaps the greatest urban-myth, perpetrated and perpetuated by those whose interests it serves, is that the unemployed are there-by-choice, and unwilling to work.

Of course, this is absurd and an outright falsehood.

Fact 1:  The New Zealand December 2007 Quarter Household Labourforce Survey unemployment stood  at 3.4% . This was prior to the global recession hitting NZ.

Fact 2:  By the end of 2008, the New Zealand December Quarter Household Labourforce Survey unemployed rose to 4.6%.

Fact 3:  The New Zealand December 2010 Quarter Household Labourforce Survey unemployed rate increased to 6.8% .

Fact  4: In three years, the Household Labourforce Survey unemployed doubled from 3.4% to 6.8%

Fact  5: In other countries such as the US, unemployment went from 4.8%  in the fourth quarter of 2007 to stand at 9.1%  by July of this year.

Whether the largest economy on Earth, or one of the smallest, the impact of the global banking crisis and following recession caused companies to collapse; down-size; and “rationalise” (reduce) staff. This caused unemployment to skyrocket.

Events in Wall St, USA, had an impact on Main Sts, New Zealand;

“Jobs to go at textile factories”

“Headlines do not reveal true picture of job losses”

“‘Another kick in the guts for rural NZ'”

“Job losses to hit military next week”

“Lower Hutt jobs to go as shops shut”

“Hellaby’s closes: 18 jobs go”

“Australasian Colorado shops closing”

“Grim day of redundancies”

“Jobs to go at troubled baker Yarrows”

“KiwiRail plans to lay off Dunedin staff”

“Thirty-five jobs may go at Niwa”

“Ovation confirms 304 job losses “

“Dunne defends Greymouth IRD job cuts announcement”

“NZ Post shutting stores, axing jobs”

“Ballantynes faces post-quake job cuts”

“Lane Walker Rudkin 470 Redundancies A Tragedy”

And many more here .

As unemployment increased, the number of job-seekers increased. Even the Prime Minister, John Key, has remarked,

“We’re part of a global environment so we can’t control all of the factors that affect New Zealand, but all the indications we have is that 2011 will be a better year.”

Dozens, and often hundreds of unemployed job-seekers would turn up at businesses, that were hiring staff;

It is apparent that the global recession has caused the demise of some businesses, and forced others to greatly reduce staffing numbers. This is beyond the control of any individual in this country.

So why is there a perception amongst some individuals and groups that the jobless have chosen their unemployment as some kind of “lifestyle choice”? Especially when is it clear that WINZ unemployment benefits are nowhere as generous as some might believe.

Trying to apportion responsibility for people losing their jobs is victim-blaming  and is utterly  repugnant. Such victim-blaming is an unwelcome aspect of the human capacity for bigotry.

Why do people do it?

* The Opportunists.

It serves the purpose of some political parties such as National and ACT to blame unemployed for their predicament.

It allows National the opportunity to escape any possibility of responsibility at addressing this critical economic and social problem. And it’s a vote-winner with the next group,

* The Greedy.

For many neo-liberals who cherish the ideology of the free-market and minimalist-government, any form of taxation by the State is “theft”. And when the State hands over some of that tax-money to the Unemployed so that they can survive – they resent it. And do they complain bitterly!

These neo-liberal free-marketeers resent having to contribute their fair share to the society they live in. (Though they think nothing of driving on tax-payer funded roads; being cared for in tax-payer funded A&E Hospital Wards; protected by tax-payer funded Police; educated in tax-payer funded schools, etc.)

Greed – it does funny things to peoples’ humanity.

* The Perpetually Angry.

The uninformed, perpetually angry, people who obtain their information through TV news and/or Talkback radio. They have friends,, who know someone who has heard of a person, who apparently lives in luxury on the dole

These are people who have very little experience of the society they live in and generally have a circle of friends who validate their misconceptions.  For them, everyone is a dole-bludger; the recession happened to Someone, Somewhere Else; and everyone should be living comfortably, regardless of circumstances. Their worldview generally doesn’t extend much past their front door.

Anger – it stops people thinking clearly.

Unfortunately, The Greedy and The Perpetually Angry have no constructive solutions to offer us.

One hopes that  the National government will reconsider their decision to  cut almost $146 million from skills training.

Nor does it help when we export jobs overseas,

“Army shifts $2m contract to China”

“Chinese firm beats Hillside to KiwiRail contract”

So not only are New Zealanders losing their jobs because of corporate greed and mis-management in Wall St, USA – but our current policies actually encourage contracts to be awarded to other countries,  in effect “exporting” jobs.

Is this making sense to anyone?

Is it little wonder we have high unemployment, who need the dole to simply survive?

Because demonising a vulnerable group in our society will not achieve a single damn thing; create a single damn job; nor give us the Decent Society that we once enjoyed living in.

So far, my fellow New Zealanders,  there is precious little decency going on here.