Labour got another kick in the slats this morning with the announcement that the unemployment rate has dropped.
The NZ Herald reports:
New Zealand’s unemployed rate fell more than expected in the third quarter as construction, retail and hospitality firms hired workers. The kiwi dollar jumped a third of a US cent on the figures.
The unemployment rate slipped to 6.2 per cent in the three months ended September 30 just below the 6.3 per cent forecast in a Reuters survey of economists, and down from 6.4 per cent in the June quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand’s Household Labour Force Survey.Read more »
The ‘living wage’ idea poses more questions than it answers.
Apparently the proposed non-compulsory hourly wage of $18.40 is based on the needs of a family with two children, with one full-time and one part-time worker.
But someone with dependent children who is earning less than the living wage will almost certainly be receiving Working For Families assistance.
As well, someone without children might be receiving an accommodation supplement which helps with rent, board or a mortgage.
Because these are income-tested payments, they reduce as the employee’s salary or wage increases.
Under the living wage scenario then, an employer would pay more, but in many cases the worker’s income would remain the same as he progressively loses other government assistance, especially the accommodation supplement. Who has gained? Neither of them. The gaining party would be the government. Read more »
I was recently asked why the attitude of most people towards benefit claimants and the long-term unemployed seems to have hardened so much over the last 50 or 60 years. I think it is a most interesting question, and I suspect that there have been several factors at work.
Certainly one is that back in the Seventies and Eighties there was a lot less unemployment as a career choice and very few families where no one had ever worked or indeed wanted to do so.
There was a great deal of “concealed unemployment”, mostly in the form of overmanning in manufacturing industry, but overwhelmingly people who became unemployed were keen to get back into work.
Long-term unemployment was concentrated amongst older men made redundant from declining industries, particularly mining, and often in areas far from those where new jobs were being created which probably reduced any stigma of long term joblessness.
A second factor has been immigration. If immigrants are willing to travel a thousand miles to fill a job vacancy here, it is harder for British people to claim that there are no jobs available. At the same time there is also an understandable outrage against foreigners living off our welfare system with no apparent intention of working other than at petty street crime. Read more »
Tougher welfare rules have helped cut the future cost of the welfare system by $3 billion.
A new valuation of the future costs of social welfare, issued by the Social Development Ministry yesterday, shows the total lifetime liability of the system jumped in the year to June last year from $78.1 billion to $86.8 billion,
But this was almost entirely because of falling interest rates, which lifted the current value of future welfare costs.
Estimated future costs also increased slightly because the unemployment rate was 0.6 per cent higher than the Treasury had forecast when Australian consultants Taylor Fry prepared their first $1 million baseline valuation as at June 2011.
But the number of people on benefits last June was less than expected for that level of unemployment. Read more »
I guess it is fair to say the industry and general economy is well rooted.
Wall Street expects the US Treasury to continue printing money for a few months yet, after weak jobs data showed that America’s economic recovery may be faltering.
The unemployment rate edged down from 7.4pc in July to 7.3pc in August – its lowest rate since 2008 – but the change was driven by people dropping out of the labour force rather than any increase in paid employment. Read more »
I’d love to see it broadcast here. We’d never get our TV stations to do a similar documentary, they’d go out of their way to find people to blame their useless, miserable lives on John Key.
Karen was a care assistant for 22 years, but has been out of work for seven years, during which time she has claimed £155-a-week disability living allowance. Her car, too, is paid for by the state. Karen feels benefits are her right, that she has done her bit by working in the past. Now, she says, it’s the state’s turn to support her. ‘I’ve done my f***ing share for Britain,’ is the way she puts it, in her blunt Midlands accent. ‘I’ve worked for me money, I want me money.’
Far from thinking them generous, Karen doesn’t think her benefits nearly bounteous enough. But the fact is benefits are more generous today than they’ve ever been, or indeed were ever intended to be by the founding fathers of the welfare state.
The level of welfare payments is now higher, in relation to earnings, than ever before. The average amount claimants receive has more than doubled in real terms over the past 50 years, according to recent statistics.
Projected costs suggest benefits will cost taxpayers £348 billion this year.
Our extended welfare payments must be horrendous as well.
The results are both depressing and heartening. In episode one, Karen, Melvyn, a cheery 71-year-old widower, and Craig, a 24-year-old in a wheelchair, have their 2013-level benefits taken away for a week and are put through the 1940s system.
All three are from Nottingham, where half the population is on some kind of benefit.
Yes, half. Even though we have become inured to the dependency culture, that single figure tells a terrible story. For benefits were originally conceived as a temporary helping hand in times of trouble, not a lifestyle choice. Joblessness allowances, pensions and the NHS were meant to provide a safety net, but were something the individual should aspire well beyond.
[William] Beveridge described welfare payments as ‘an attack upon want’. But want was only one of five giants he was trying to slay. He described the others as ‘disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness’. Yes, idleness.
How unwilling we are nowadays to talk in those bald, almost biblical terms. Indeed, we seem to avoid applying any kind of moral principle to state handouts today.
But the early welfare state did just that. And it did so partly to keep the welfare bill down, but also because its founders believed we benefited from having a purpose. Work was seen as therapeutic; even those who could only do a little were encouraged to try.
Things certainly have changed. Today, people believe they have a right to give up work and live off the state, as if they were taking early retirement. They want benefits that are not just good enough to live on, but generous enough to fund luxuries like alcohol, cigarettes and modern status symbols such as huge widescreen televisions.
Sigh…supposed to be a safety net, the welfare state has been turned into a trampoline.
When a welfare officer visits Karen and remarks that her house is clean, and her lawn mown, she reveals that this has been done by her son.
Strikingly, Karen, who is very overweight, has long acrylic nails, immaculately painted with a different shade of polish on each finger. Her hair is freshly braided and her manicured hands glitter with enormous rings.
There’s no doubting she suffers from pain and discomfort, but it’s also obvious that the demoralisation caused by her various ailments — which she refers to officiously as ‘my health issues’ — is exacerbated by lack of purpose.
Karen’s ‘new’ 1940s weekly handout is deemed to be £38.48 — compared to the £155.34 she currently receives. The car she has courtesy of today’s mobility allowance is also taken away.
She is furious. Expletives rain down on the welfare officers as she insists: ‘I can’t live off that.’
But this is not the worst news. If she wants to keep even this small payment, she will have to be assessed for work.
Her response is a tirade: ‘I’m not well, I’ve got a list of illnesses what are wrong with me. Go to the younger people, what are they doing? Leave me alone, I’ve done my f***ing share for Britain, I’m doing no more. They can f*** off.’
Her pleas fall on deaf ears. Conditions recognised now as disqualifying someone for work were simply not recognised when the system was established.
Despite Karen’s protests that she’s ‘in pain every single day 24/7’, she is forced to complete a 1940s-style medical assessment. It is toe-curlingly fascinating to watch.
‘Would you be able to climb ladders?’ asks the doctor.
‘Oh no,’ said Karen.
Karen laughs at the sheer idiocy of the idea.
‘Pull an object?’
‘I would find that a struggle.’
The doctor puts a 12lb bag of potatoes at her feet and asks her to lift it.
‘No, struggling with that,’ she says, not even getting it off the floor.
The doctor then places one potato on the desk in front of her and asks her to pick it up. She pauses, unsure what to do.
Call me sceptical, but I could almost see the cogs turning in her brain, as if she was thinking: ‘If I pick up this potato, I might lose my benefit, but if I don’t pick up this potato, that will look ridiculous.’
She reaches forward tentatively and picks it up, saying ‘there’s pain in here’ while rubbing her arm ostentatiously.
Karen’s medical isn’t finished yet, however. The assessor then gives her a piece of paper and pen, before getting her to draw a star and cut it out. This she does without complaint until he tells her the test will show if she could do tailoring work.
Her response is then instant: ‘This is actually hurting my thumb.’
The results showed that the 3.7 percentage point increase in male unemployment during the time caused a decline in the incidence of domestic abuse by 12 percent. Meanwhile, the 3 percentage point increase in female unemployment increased domestic violence by 10 percent. The correlation held for all kinds of abuse, but it was stronger for physical violence. Read more »