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CTU take on Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) was in today’s official lockup for the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update (PREFU).

“It’s clear that the government’s strategy to make large scale investment in the wake of COVID has successfully cushioned the blow on our nation. We have seen necessary and unprecedented spending. The government had to make quick decisions about things like the wage subsidy scheme. This decisive leadership had kept over 1.5 million people in their jobs. But working people need the government to do more,” said CTU Economist Andrea Black.

“With debt – allowing for the Super Fund – peaking at quite modest levels of 37% in 2024 and extremely low interest rates, it has capacity to do so.”

“That Treasury has now projected the numbers of people out of work (unemployed) peaking at 7.8% in March 22 rather than 9.8% this September. This is heartening as it means ultimately that 50,000 fewer people will be out of paid work than was expected in May.”

“However, it is still almost twice the pre-Lockdown rate of December 19. The government needs to keep spending in areas which will ensure a better Aotearoa. This includes investing in areas which will ensure job creation. These need to be jobs that are off a high quality; skilled, well paid and in future focused industries. There is so much work to be done to ensure we can move towards a zero carbon future, where we are living in ways which are actually harmonious with our planet.”

We continue to be a low wage high rent economy. Some serious changes in the way that we prioritise are needed, changes which put people and families before profit and money but would also boost demand for New Zealand businesses and create jobs.

CTU would like to see:

– Accelerating active labour market policies to match people with the jobs that exist.

– Creative ways such as increasing paid parental leave to temporarily reduce labour supply.

– Increase and individualise benefits as well as lower the abatement and raise thresholds for Working for Families.

– Accelerate the building of affordable rentals so that everyone can have a warm dry home without breaking the bank.

“We have the opportunity to be visionary as a nation. To be a place with truly universal basic services and public services which set the standard. Initiatives like these not only have the potential to create jobs and ensure that more people are in work (addressing concerns about both unemployment and under-employment),” Black said.