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Working longer, not smarter in the future?

Are we going to be working longer, not smarter in the future?

The latest research from the Canterbury Manufacturers’ Association (CMA) shows the long-term decline of manufacturing jobs, compared to all sectors of the economy, and an increasing number of people working longer hours or entering into part time or supplementary employment.

The CMA says that between March 1989 and March 2007, there was a steady trend downwards in the total number of jobs in the manufacturing sector of 7%, compared to an overall increase of 40% in the total number of jobs across all sectors of the economy.

The number of full time manufacturing jobs decreased by 9.6% during the same period, compared with an overall rise of 29%, while the number of the part time employees in the manufacturing sector rose almost 36%, compared to a 90% across all sectors.

Despite the growth in the number of part time manufacturing jobs as a percentage of part time jobs for all sectors, part time work in manufacturing actually decreased from 6.6% in 1989 to 4.7% in 2006.

“These figures show a long term growth in New Zealand’s employment and the decline in the number of manufacturing jobs, and we can expect these trends to continue for as long as our currency remains overvalued and New Zealand’s industrial structure unwinds”, says Chief Executive John Walley.

“The employment growth within the wider economy can conceal the loss of manufacturing jobs, but New Zealand runs the risk of eroding, to the point of breakdown, the specialised skill base necessary to support a developed economy. As skill levels fall, so too will our levels of productivity. Holiday changes are not yet in the numbers, but the growth rate of our labour and multifactor productivity has slowed in the years since 2001, largely due to shifts in employment patterns towards lower hourly rates and a more piecemeal structure in employment”, says Mr. Walley.

“The changing employment mix will affect a wide cross section of people from those in the industrial sector whose jobs are lost or exported, to first time home buyers, those on entry level or lower unskilled wage rates, or those who must boost their income to make ends meet. As these trends continue, we can expect an increasing number of people taking on additional employment, regardless of how seasonal, unstructured, or time fractured the job might be”.

“The changing employment mix is an issue that will impact the living standards of all New Zealanders, and if these trends continue, then a growing number of people will have to work longer in the future”.


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