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More Jobs, Reduced UE, Policies Are Delivering

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More Jobs, Reduced Unemployment, Policies Are Delivering - What's The Alternative?

First published on…

By Paulo Politico

New Zealand is
out-performing top OECD countries in reducing the level of
Unemployed.New Zealand is outperforming the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, the Czech Republic, and France in providing jobs. But most exciting are Household Labour Force Survey figures showing falls in unemployment across regions. The performance suggests policies are delivering jobs. And still the National Party has yet to respond…

1,867,000 New Zealanders are currently employed, according to Statistics New Zealand. Even better, employment has increased for the eighth consecutive quarter.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, for the March 2002 quarter, has fallen to just 5.3 percent.

Those results are nothing short of stunning, and are a credit to every single person, group and government agency that has ever made job creation are high priority.

For the government, the figures are a massive victory. Employment growth is a key indicator of economic growth. Employment is also a key ingredient to wealth creation. A job means an income, and an income means the chance to accumulate wealth.

On the same day that the latest unemployment figures were released, Statistics New Zealand released another key result that points to economic growth – trade figures.

The seasonally adjusted value of merchandise exports, in the March 2002 quarter, is $3,026 million, which is $6 million ahead of forecast. The merchandise trade balance, for the March 2002 month, is an astonishing $456 million!

In percentage terms, the trade surplus is the highest for a March month since 1994. For those with a keen interest in ensuring the New Zealand’s economy is performing well, employment growth, a low unemployment rate, an increase in the value of exports, and the impressive trade surplus, will gladden the heart.

New Zealand’s economy has remained remarkably buoyant over the past year, despite problems following the events of September 11 and the consequential slowdown in the world economy. New Zealand’s unemployment rate now puts it twelfth equal (with Japan) in the OECD ranking. We are outperforming the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, the Czech Republic, and France.

But perhaps the most exciting outcome of the latest Household Labour Force Survey figures is the fall in unemployment across regions. The year on year unemployment rate, for the March 2002 year, fell in the Waikato (down from 6.5 to 6.1), Bay of Plenty (8.5 to 7.2), Gisborne/Hawkes Bay (6.6 to 4.9), Taranaki (6.2 to 4.9), Manawatu-Wanganui (6.5 to 6.2), and Canterbury (6.0 to 5.5). The participation rate increased in 10 of the 12 regions surveyed.

When Finance Minister Dr Michael Cullen reads his third Budget in a few weeks, he will present a set of economic forecasts that will illustrate how the economy is growing. Underpinning that growth is an increase in productivity throughout the country, largely on the back of an increase in employment.

The economic outlook for New Zealand is very good if employment growth can be sustained. Certainly there is no reason to suggest that this can’t happen.

The gain in long-term migration means families are moving New Zealand, with the intention of living here permanently. Thousands of migrants are bringing wealth, business acumen, skills and technical knowledge, all of which can be utilised put to good use in this country.

A key outcome of the increase in long-term immigration is that new permanent and long-term migrants fuel demand of residential property. This in turn helps to fuel construction. Statistics New Zealand confirmed that the number of new dwelling units, authorised in March 2002, was 1,986. The value of those dwelling units was around $333 million.

You can witness the value of those homes firsthand when you travel around suburban Auckland and see new houses being built. Those new houses are being built by building contractors, the spouting is being installed by plumbing contractors, and the wiring is being installed by electricians, all of whom are winning because of immigration and the boom in the construction industry.

Who could possibly suggest that this development is bad for the New Zealand economy, let alone our society?

The National Party has completely misread the mood of the electorate. They do not understand that employment and economic development are so important to voters. They do not appreciate that an increase in job opportunities is an issue that voters care about.

At National’s lower North Island regional conference this past weekend, speakers could not bring themselves to talk about issues such as employment growth. They chose instead to attack Helen Clark, vilifying her and condemning her physical attributes.

National leader Bill English reportedly referred to Clark as a “lemon sucker”.

Frontbench MP Gerry Brownlee, who was ordered in March this year to pay $8,500 for manhandling a Native Forest Action campaigner, reportedly told delegates that Clark is a person that needed to be “broken”.

National president Michelle Boag reportedly accused the government of “not fronting up on the issues” .

Right throughout the weekend, National’s leadership chose to avoid talking about issues of substance. Instead National chose to wallow in the cesspit of personal vilification. The contrast in style between the government and the National opposition is breathtaking.

Unlike National, the Act Party appears to have some interest in employment issues, if only fleeting. Richard Prebble reportedly commented on the latest trend in employment, but only to criticise the result.

It has been left up to the government, through Steve Maharey and Jim Anderton, to provide leadership on issues such as employment opportunities. A colleague of mine recently said the opposition relegates employment to the “too hard basket”. That is a highly cynical view, but probably a correct one.

Employment growth is really important. It’s too important to ignore, let alone attack.

A sensible and credible opposition would welcome the growth in employment and congratulate the government and key sector groups such as private enterprise, trade unions, and other community organisations for working to stimulate job growth. Support rather than condemnation would almost certainly win the kudos that National, in particular, appears to crave.

In three months time Statistics New Zealand will release an updated set of information figures, which are likely to confirm that the number of new employment opportunities continues to grow. That news is good news for the business and for aspirant job seekers.

Helen Clark’s government, which has presided over the creation of over 100,000 new jobs, will welcome the result as confirmation that New Zealand is on the right track. For the opposition, the result would be disastrous.

For National in particular the employment statistics will be a crucial test. A credible opposition will rise above political point scoring and opportunism, and congratulate the government when the government deserves praise.

Bill English must not repeat his weekend assault on New Zealand’s Prime Minister. He must talk about jobs and economic growth, rather than condemn her physical appearance.

Interestingly enough the government responded to the release of the Household Labour Force Survey results within two hours of the release by Statistics New Zealand, while the National opposition has yet to issue a media statement … four days after the release.

Send your comments to: Spectator News Editor.
© Spectator News Agency, Multimedia Investments Limited, 2002.

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