First the good news:
Finance Minister Bill English talked up NZ’s economic progress this week, telling Parliament Treasury’s Monthly Economic Indicators for February show the positive momentum in the economy in the September 2013 quarter continued into the December quarter. The number of people employed increased by 66,600 in 2013, unemployment fell to 6%, and total weekly gross earnings were 5.2% higher than a year earlier, reflecting the combined effect of wage and job growth. Labour force participation, the proportion of the adult population available for work, is close to a 28-year high. The rate of building consents is at the highest level since 2008 and has doubled since 2011. Consumer and business confidence are relatively high.
And why it matters:
English says the Govt is focused on a more productive and competitive economy, and that means working to rebalance the economy so more of it is exposed to world trade. “In the long term we need to see less Govt spending and less domestic consumption, and more focus on profitable export sectors that earn a living for NZ from the rest of the world. The importance of business confidence is it tends to drive investment decisions. So when business is confident about the future, it is more likely to borrow the money or raise it from other sources and invest in the plant and equipment and the opportunities for more higher-paying jobs. Without that confidence, we will not get the investment and the better-paying jobs.”
And for those who think the minimum wage is too low:
The ANZ Business Outlook survey shows 71% of firms are optimistic, the highest level since 1994. English says the Govt is focused on locking in gains from this positive outlook where it has a direct role in doing so. The increase in the adult minimum wage to $14.25 an hour, from $13.75 an hour, takes it to a level 19% higher than in 2008. The Govt has sought to balance the needs of workers and businesses to keep the minimum wage at around 50% of the average wage, and this relationship of the minimum wage at 50% of the average wage is the highest in the OECD. . .
Those who complain the minimum wage is still too low forget too things – imposing a minimum wage costs jobs and it’s a floor not a ceiling.
Apropos of which, does anyone know how many people receive the minimum wage, how many of those are full time, permanent employees and what ages they are?