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Manufacturing employment falls - 4 December

Manufacturing employment falls - 4 December

The Census 2013 data has reaffirmed the declining trend in manufacturing employment over the last decade, a trend supported by falling revenues indicated in the “exports by levels of processing” series from Statistics New Zealand. This is what happens when a sector of our economy is viewed as an optional extra, this is not inevitable; it does not have to be this way, say the New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association (NZMEA).

NZMEA Chief Executive John Walley says, “Overall, the census numbers were not a shock, and were relatively in line with other more frequent data sources. The fall in manufacturing employment was reported by the Parliamentary Inquiry into Manufacturing driven by the reported job losses over time.”

“There is no economic development principle that requires manufacturing employment to fall. Policy settings that do not encourage investment in the real economy, particularly for export markets, are a matter of choice. Past choices made determine conditions today: falling employment, falling wages and falling innovation; generally our economy is losing complexity and regressing to commodities.”

”This does not have to be the case. With the different policy settings we could expect growing complexity, higher prices and higher wages from added value activities.”

“It is worth repeating that decline is not an inevitable side effect of economic growth; it is a consequence of our policy settings and culture.”

“Manufacturing is still a large and hugely important sector; with the right focus we could expect to see investment growth in the real economy, reversing this employment trend and providing much needed well paid and highly skilled jobs.”

“The Census showed employment in manufacturing has fallen from 217,758 in 2006, to 188,286 in 2013, a 13.5% decrease. Manufacturing employment still makes up 9.4% of total employment, 13.2% of GDP and 23.9% of total exports.

“The Health Care and Social Assistance service industry is now the largest employer in the economy at 191,694 people. Growth in the service sector depends on growth in the real economy, an unbalanced economy is not sustainable.”


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