What do we do with unemployable?

08/02/2018

Unemployment has fallen to a nine-year low.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent in the December 2017 quarter, down from 4.6 percent last quarter, Stats NZ said today.

“This quarter’s unemployment rate is the lowest since the December 2008 quarter, when it was 4.4 percent,” labour market and household statistics senior manager Jason Attewell said. “However, the underutilisation rate was just over 12 percent –reflecting about 340,000 New Zealanders with potential to work more. This measure is just as important as the unemployment rate.”

Do these people with potential to work more want to, and if they want to what’s stopping them?

I’ve been in the potential-to-do-more-paid-work category for most of my married life but that has mostly been a matter of choice.

Having the potential to do more is only a problem for the individuals concerned if they want to and can’t and there could be many reasons for that.

The unemployment rate for the December 2017 quarter remains considerably above New Zealand’s lowest unemployment rate, which was 3.3 percent, recorded a decade ago in the December 2007 quarter, immediately before the global financial crisis.

In the December 2017 quarter, the unemployment rate for men remained at 4.0 percent, following adjustments to last quarter’s data. By comparison, the unemployment rate for women fell to 5.0 percent, down from 5.3 percent last quarter.

This is getting down to the unemployable – those who can’t or won’t work.

People who aren’t mentally or physically capable of working aren’t included in the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS). That leaves people who for a variety of reasons, including lack of skills, can’t find work. Helping them upskill and get work-ready should be a priority.

It was for the National-led government which put a lot of effort, and money, into addressing the causes of benefit-dependency.

Then we come to those who won’t work.

Continuing to address the causes is the solution to that.

One strategy that won’t be helpful is cutting immigration when there are areas and workplaces in desperate need of staff and unable to fill vacancies from the unemployed.


Immigration up, unemployment down

06/11/2014

One argument used by people opposed to immigration is that immigrants take jobs.

The latest Household Labourforce Survey gives the lie to that, showing that immigration increased while unemployment fell:

Rising employment is more than keeping up with our growing population, while unemployment has fallen to 5.4 percent, Statistics New Zealand said today.

“Due to strong migration, we have had the largest annual rise in the population in 10 years,” labour market and households statistics manager Diane Ramsay said. “We had 72,000 more people employed over the year, greater than the additional 64,000 people in the population. This pushed our employment rate up, to 65.2 of every 100 adults being in employment.”

“While employment has grown strongly, the picture for wages is mixed,” Ms Ramsay said. Annual wage inflation was 1.6 percent, as measured by the labour cost index (LCI). This is in line with the past four quarters. Although private sector wage inflation was 1.9 percent, growth in pay rates for the public sector has slowed to 1.0 percent.

The number of people employed has grown 3.2 percent since September 2013, in the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS). Demand for workers from established businesses rose 3.0 percent in the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) – the largest annual increase in over six years. . .

The construction industry accounted for almost half the annual employment growth. Just over 40 percent of the growth in this industry was in Canterbury, with a further 17 percent being in Auckland. . .

Employment had been lagging behind other economic indicators but now it is increasing as the population grows and unemployment is the lowest since 2009:

The HLFS shows an increase of 18,000 people employed in the September quarter and 72,000 over the last year as the economy continues to strengthen following the Global Financial Crisis.

“It’s very encouraging to see the increasing confidence of companies around the country as they build their businesses and hire more people,” Mr Joyce says.

“We’ve seen particularly strong recovery in the construction industry in the last year, which has grown by 33,500 jobs across the country.

“It’s also good news for Kiwis that real wages are steadily increasing faster than inflation. The Quarterly Employment Survey shows average hourly earnings up 2.3 per cent for the year compared to an inflation rate of 1 per cent over the same period.”

Other highlights include:

The lowest NEET rate for 15-19 year olds since June 2008 at 7.2 per cent.

Particularly strong employment growth in the South Island with 41,000 more people employed in the last year. The South Island unemployment rate is now 3.4 per cent compared to 6.2 per cent in the North Island.

Strong employment growth for women. The number of women in full-time employment rose by 12,000 in the quarter and the number in part-time employment rose by 3,000.

“The New Zealand employment story is one of steady recovery from the very tough days of the Global Financial Crisis,” Mr Joyce says.

“The Government will continue to focus on policies that encourage business confidence, investment and job growth right across the New Zealand economy through the Business Growth Agenda and our consistent macroeconomic policies.”

Photo: Our clear plan to grow the economy is working, with unemployment falling to the lowest level in more than five years. ntnl.org.nz/1qov7Ai #Working4NZ


Employment up

08/05/2014

Employment and labour force participation continued to improve in May while unemployment remained at 6%.

“We’re seeing more people in the labour market, with the participation rate surpassing the previous high in late 2008 before the downturn in the labour market,” labour market and households statistics manager Diane Ramsay said. “The rise in participation is on the back of more people in work, while the number of people looking for work remains unchanged.”

The labour force participation and employment rates both increased 0.4 percentage points over the quarter. “Employment continues to rise, with growth seen across a number of regions, industries, and demographics,” Ms Ramsay said. 

Annually, the number of people employed rose 3.7 percent in the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS). Demand for workers from established businesses rose 2.6 percent in the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES). 

Annual wage inflation, as measured by the labour cost index (LCI) salary and wage rates (including overtime), was 1.6 percent. This compares with annual consumer price inflation of 1.5 percent. Average ordinary time hourly earnings, as measured by the QES, rose 2.5 percent over the year. . .

 The latest labour market data shows continuing strong employment growth with 84,000 more jobs added to the New Zealand economy in the last year – the largest increase in nearly a decade.

“The latest results show the growing strength of the New Zealand economy,” Mr Joyce says. 

“While unemployment remained flat at 6.0 per cent, it was driven by a record labour force participation rate of 69.3 per cent. That compares with 64.7 per cent in Australia.

Highlights include:

  • Female participation rose to 63.7 per cent – a new record high.
  • Average ordinary time hourly earnings, as measured by the Quarterly Employment Survey, rose 2.5 per cent in the year. Inflation was 1.5 per cent in the last year, meaning New Zealanders’ wages continue to rise faster than the cost of living
  • Unemployment for Pasifika continues to fall – down 2.2 percentage points from a year ago.

New Zealand’s unemployment rate continues to be lower than most OECD countries. The average unemployment rate across the OECD is 7.6 per cent.

“Through our comprehensive Business Growth Agenda, the Government has a strong focus on creating the opportunities for competitive businesses to invest and employ more people.

“Our results so far are reflected in strong growth, increasing employment, an improved trade balance, stronger productivity growth, and real wages rising faster than the cost of living.”

An increase in employment and labour force participation while unemployment remains steady appears to be contradictory.

One explanation for that is that people who hadn’t been looking for work decided to and found jobs.

It could also reflect the return of people from Australia.
Photo: National's economic programme is working. http://bit.ly/1iVcOn0


Employment up, unemployment down

05/02/2014

Employment has lagged behind other encouraging announcements but the labour market is strengthening and unemployment has fallen to a three-year low:

The labour market continues to grow and unemployment has fallen to 6.0 percent, Statistics New Zealand said today. There were 24,000 more people employed in the December 2013 quarter, following an additional 28,000 in the September quarter.

Over the December 2013 year, the number of people employed rose 3.0 percent in the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS). Demand for workers from established businesses rose 1.9 percent in the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES).

“We’re seeing strength across the labour market, particularly in the industries that provide services,” industry and labour statistics manager Diane Ramsay said. “The unemployment rate has been falling and employment rising for the last 18 months, with both now at levels last seen in early 2009.”

Annual wage inflation, as measured by the labour cost index (LCI) salary and ordinary time wage rates, remained steady at 1.6 percent in the December 2013 quarter. Average ordinary time hourly earnings, as measured by the QES, rose 2.9 percent over the year – up from 2.6 percent in the September quarter.

 

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says this is further evidence that the New Zealand economy is heading in the right direction.

“What is pleasing is the growth is right across the country and shows the Government’s responsible economic policies and comprehensive Business Growth Agenda is creating the opportunities for businesses to invest and employ more people.”
Highlights include:

  • The labour force participation rate increased 0.3 per cent to 68.9 per cent – the second highest since records began in 1986. Female participation rose 0.4 per cent to 63.4 per cent – the highest level since the HLFS began
  • The rate for youth not in employment, education or training (NEET) for 15-24 year olds fell 0.1 per cent to 11.3 per cent – the lowest rate since December 2008
  • Māori and Pasifika unemployment are both down. Māori unemployment rate was 12.8 per cent (from 14.8 per cent a year ago). Pasifika unemployment rate was 13.7 per cent (from 16.0 per cent a year ago)
  • Manufacturing jobs are up 6 per cent in the last year or 14,300 people.

New Zealand’s unemployment rate remains better than most OECD countries and is just behind Australia (5.8 per cent). New Zealand has a significantly higher employment rate than Australia because of our higher participation rate. The average unemployment rate across the OECD is 7.8 per cent. 

Wages continue to rise faster than inflation. Average weekly earnings rose 2.8 per cent in the last year, compared to inflation of 1.6 per cent.

“While steady progress is being made, as a country we need to remain focused on encouraging investment that will bring jobs, and higher incomes for New Zealanders and their families,” Mr Joyce says.

Six percent is still too high but the improvement is welcome and increased business confidence means it is likely to continue.


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