What Labour is and isn’t focussing on

Yesterday a desperate Labour party resorted to race-baiting in order to try and gain some traction.

Unfortunately their shameless attempt to emulate Winston Peters ended up covered in Kak as it was revealed that their “statistics” were as slippery as a dock covered in duck poo.

It got me thinking.

What is Labour focussing on and why aren’t they focussing on real issues?

So, what we know is Labour thinks that people with chinky sounding surnames investing in property is bad. By extension anyone with a funny sounding surname investing in property is bad…and the logical extension from all their policies against property investment is that working hard, saving, buying property, collecting rent is all bad in their books and these property owning hard working, migrants mostly, Kiwis are stuffing the economy.

In particular they are focussing on the over representation in a highly selective data set of Asian property owners.

That is what Labour is focussing on.

What they aren’t focussing on is policies that address over representation in other statistics. Statistics New Zealand tells us that Asian make up 12% of the population. Maori are 15%, Europeans 74%, Pasifika 7% and 1% are Middle Eastern, Latin American or African.   Read more »

No matter how many times Key pulls a ponytail, it’s stuff like this that keeps him in the job

The unemployment rate is steady at 5.8 percent, according to the latest quarterly figures.

It remained static in the March quarter while the labour force participation rate reached an all-time high of 69.6 percent, said Statistics NZ.

Unemployment low and remains low.  Low when compared to our trading partners and top OECD performers.

On top of that, the size of the labour market has increased, so there are more people with jobs.   Superb.

Now, as reported, they had to find a negative somewhere, and they managed:

The figures show the male employment rate is at its highest level since December 2008.

So more women in jobs as well.   Not that they picked that angle.


I wonder if Labour will try this here?

I wonder if our very own “future of work” researcher who has never had a proper job, Grant Robertson, would be supportive of a scheme that would see benefits stopped and unemployed forced into work after two years.

They would probably throw their hands up at the horror of the state forcing the indolent into work.

But that is exactly what Labour in the UK is proposing.

The unemployed should be forced to take a job after no more than two years on the dole to end stop them spending a ‘lifetime on benefits’, Labour will say today.

Rachel Reeves is challenging David Cameron to back Labour’s plan for a jobs guarantee to limit Jobseekers Allowance to a year for under 25s and two years for older workers.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, the shadow work and pensions secretary warned the country cannot afford leaving people ‘stuck on benefits for years on end’.

Latest figures show the number of people claiming JSA stood at 867,700 in December, down from 1.6million in 2011 but still 90,000 higher than the pre-crash trough in February 2008.

However, there are 133,200 people aged 25 and over who have been claiming JSA for two years or more, and 30,000 people aged 18-24 have been on JSA for over a year.

Under Labour’s plan, the government would force those on the scheme to take a job working 25 hours a week, paid at the minimum wage, for six months.

The party hopes that four in five people would be kept on by employers in the job after six months.

Read more »

Andrew Little warns Key what he’ll try to gum him about

This is a new strategy – Andrew Little telling the media what he’ll hold John Key to account over when parliament resumes.

Labour leader Andrew Little says a number of issues have been building up over the summer which Labour will focus on when Parliament resumes this week, including the funding of the SkyCity Convention Centre and a rise in the unemployment rate.

Just before Christmas, SkyCity chief Nigel Morrison said he wanted the taxpayer to bridge any shortfall in construction costs or the company could walk away from the deal.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce suggested Auckland City help to meet any shortfall.

That’s a sitter.  There is a deep dissatisfaction with National over the SkyCity situation, not helped by Steve Joyce keeping SjyCity’s hopes alive by telling the public that discussions about tax payers paying for SkyCity’s private business investments are ongoing.

As this is an issue where the Government is on the back foot with little public support, it will be great to see if Labour can actually place some hard hits on the PM here.   But having warned Key days in advance, I doubt it. Read more »

Guest Post: MSD ups efforts to detect sole parent benefit abuse

Lindsay Mitchell has been doing some digging  and come up with some interesting information regarding benefits and who should and shouldn’t be on them.

She has given me permission to repost her information in the interests of giving her a wider audience.

I have found the following information enlightening…especially as it appear to show that over 10% are abusing their benefit.


We all know that there are plenty of people pulling a single parent benefit who have partners. Anecdotal evidence aside, there are two data sources pointing to this.

One is the Growing up in NZ study, which I wrote about here but it gets quite complicated.

The second is simpler. It’s revealed in a passage from Child Poverty in New Zealand, by Simon Chapple and Jonathon Boston:

“Work undertaken at the Department of Labour and based on matching Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) and administrative welfare records indicated, firstly, that in 2011 about 10 per cent of people whose welfare records showed that they were receiving an unemployment benefit reported to the HLFS that they were actually in full-time employment (i.e., working at least thirty hours a week), and hence were ineligible for the benefit; secondly, that more than one-third of people on an unemployment benefit self-reported as not actively seeking work – and one in five expressed no intention to seek work in the coming year; and, thirdly, that about 10 per cent of people whose welfare records showed that they were receiving a DPB reported being partnered or living as married.”

(After an MBIE refusal to release the paper to me, the matter currently sits with the Ombudsman).

Back in October I blogged about a trial mentioned in the MSD Annual Report.

Read more »

Hosking on expensive lazy economic sea anchors

Credit NZ Herald, via Newstalk ZB

Credit NZ Herald, via Newstalk ZB

We have a pretty low rate on unemployment in this country at a bit over five percent. We’re beating most countries and getting dangerously close to the three percent mark that most people recognise as being full employment. The three percent are those who have no skills or don’t want a job and have dropped out or live in bits of the country where the work has vanished.

One of the biggest frustrations I have had this year is the very obvious fact that there is work out there and employers are really struggling to get good people. Surely someone somewhere is joining the dots and realising that we need to get the people where the work is because in many cases the work isn’t coming to them.

Mike is onto it.  Work as to come to them.  They’re not willing to put themselves out in any way.   Read more »

How about that manufacturing crisis?

Remember the manufacturing crisis that the Labour party and assorted other opposition parties promulgated?

You know that the sector that was in total decay and was going to fail dooming us to a life of low wage servitude and indentured labour?

Yeah…that crisis…remember?

Manufacturers are flat out and are crying out for more workers, with a survey showing employment activity at record levels.

The latest BNZ- Business NZ Performance of Manufacturing Index showed the sector was expanding at its fastest pace this year in October.

The seasonally adjusted PMI for October was 59.3, up 0.8 on September. An index above 50 indicates the sector is growing and below 50 it is shrinking.

The PMI employment index hit 57.5 points in October, the highest level on record since the survey began in 2002.

BNZ senior economist Doug Steel said the labour market was getting stronger with annual employment growth of 3.2 per cent and the unemployment rate falling in the year to September.

“Today’s PMI results suggest more improvement is likely in the final quarter of 2014.”   Read more »

Meanwhile, back at the economy, jobs are up, unemployment down

Unemployment is down to 5.4 per cent in the September quarter, as rapidly rising job numbers more than keep up with the record migration boom.

Stoked ​by the building boom in Canterbury and Auckland, in the past year 72,000 more people have found new jobs, up 3.2 per cent.

In the September quarter jobs were up a healthy 0.8 per cent, a sign of solid economic growth.

Westpac Bank economists said the latest job figures were slightly stronger than markets expected. However, wage inflation remained low despite falling unemployment.

That added to the case for the Reserve Bank to keep official interest rates on hold till the second half of next year, Westpac said.

The building boom is responsible for almost half the big lift in jobs in the past year, with most of that concentrated in Canterbury and Auckland.

Statistics NZ figures out today also show subdued wage inflation, up just 1.6 per cent in the past year, with government workers getting even smaller increases.

More people in work eh?  That won’t improve child poverty statistics, will it?   Read more »

Guest Post – Douglas wrong about National

A guest post from Lindsay Mitchell.

Making some otherwise sound recommendations to his old party, Labour, Sir Roger Douglas made this statement:

 “National’s do-nothing, status-quo approach to economic and social policy provides Labour with a real opportunity to get back up on its feet.”

In the last six years National has done more to address working-age welfare dependence than Labour did in the prior nine.

A Labour supporter would reject my claim on the basis that numbers on the unemployment benefit took a nosedive over their incumbency. That’s true. Work and Income put enormous effort into those on an unemployment benefit, and Labour luckily oversaw an economic boom (giving them full credit for which is as questionable as blaming National for the GFC.)

But chronic welfare dependence, a crippling social and economic issue for New Zealand, lies in the other main benefits:  pre-reform they were the DPB  and Sickness/Invalid benefits combined.

In 2009, National set up the Welfare Working Group, and from there, commissioned the Taylor Fry actuarial work which exposed where long-term reliance is concentrated. The revelation that teen parents and other young beneficiaries entering the system at 16 or 17 would stay there the longest was no surprise.

Through the early 2000s, while only 2-3 percent of the DPB total at any given time was teenagers, between a third and a half of all recipients had begun on welfare aged under twenty. Throughout Labour’s administration I argued that average stays on welfare were much longer than government issued figures. Point-in-time data produces much longer averages than data collected over a period of time, but it suited Labour politically to use the latter data to minimise average stays and downplay dependence.

To understand this statistical phenomena imagine a hospital ward with 10 beds. Nine are occupied year around by chronically ill patients; one is occupied on a weekly basis. At any point-in-time 9 patients have an average stay of 12 months and one, an average stay of one week. But calculated over the year, 85 percent of total patients had an average stay of just 1 week. Equate this to spells on welfare and you can see how long-term dependence can be disguised.

Here is the huge difference between National and Labour.

National looked for what Labour had denied.   Read more »

Aussies unemployment rate soars, and boy are they jealous of NZ

The Aussie unemployment rate has soared and make a mockery of the attempts of the opposition here to paint New Zealand’s economy as a dog.

Unemployment has jumped to the highest level in more than 10 years, following a surprise fall in jobs growth.

The jobless rate rose to a seasonally adjusted 6.4 per cent from 6 per cent in June, its highest point since August 2002.

The economy lost 300 jobs in July: While 14,500 full-time positions were added, 14,800 part-time jobs disappeared.

The participation rate edged 0.1 per cent higher to 64.8 per cent, which does not explain the jump in the headline unemployment rate.

The Australian dollar plunged more than half a cent from around 93.55 US cents down to 92.96 US cents.

It is the first time since 2007 than Australia’s unemployment rate has been higher than the US, which sits at 6.2 per cent.

“There’s no question, this tells us the labour market is weak,” HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham said.

Read more »