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Government policies still leave too many out of work

“While a small reduction in unemployment is welcome, it is much too slow,” says CTU Economist Bill Rosenberg. “That is still 128,000 officially looking for work, and worse than when this Government started eight years ago. Treasury says the rate should be 4.0 percent which equates to 105,000 people unemployed, or 23,000 more people at work. It has been as good as 3.3 percent in December 2007, which would mean 41,000 more people at work.”

“In addition there are 203,200 people looking for work but not satisfying the official definition of ‘unemployment’, or working part time but wanting more work – a total of 329,000 people not getting the work they want.”

“For a supposedly strongly-growing economy, we should not accept being ranked only 10th in the OECD on unemployment and have these numbers of people looking for work,” Rosenberg says.

“Youth employment has also taken a downward turn. The proportion of people aged 15 to 24 not in employment, education or training has worsened since June (after taking account of seasonal effects) from 10.0 percent to 11.1 percent of the working age population.”

The current growth of the economy is strongly dependent on more hours worked, when we should be growing the economy through higher value work. The increase in the average ordinary time hourly wage of 1.7 percent from a year ago is one of the lowest increases recorded. The low rise is partly driven by the shift of hours worked to lower wage industries such as accommodation and food services and the retail trade.

“High net immigration, constant squeezing of the public sector, lack of policy to move the economy to higher value, and inadequate support for people who lose their jobs are all factors the Government should be paying more attention to,” says Rosenberg.