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.