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Kiwis working harder

“It’s good to see incomes rising,” says CTU Economist Bill Rosenberg, commenting on the income statistics released by Statistics New Zealand this morning, “but a big part of it is from people working harder and longer.  We can see the pressures in household debt at record levels, driven by skyrocketing house prices.”

“Statistics New Zealand say that in the last year average weekly hours worked increased 0.8 hours or 2.2 percent to 37.0 hours a week. Even people working full-time are working longer hours: they worked on average 0.5 hours or 1.1 percent longer, bringing the average to 42.6 hours a week. More people are working full time rather than part time.”

“Another indicator of the pressure on families to work longer hours is that more couples with dependent children are both working. Statistics released in August showed that between June 2012 and June 2016 among couples looking after dependent children, the proportion where both were working rose from 62 percent to 70 percent, easily the highest proportion since 1999, after a period when the proportion had been stable.”

“In economic terms working harder rather than getting better pay reflects weak productivity growth – the amount we produce for each hour worked is barely increasing and may even be falling. Too many employers are locked into business models that rely on low wages rather than on investing to enable each hour worked produce more and pay higher wages. We need a rebalanced economy that focuses on higher value production, and pay systems that make sure the people doing the work get a fair reward,” Rosenberg says.