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Less spin, better analysis and more action please Minister!

6 October 2011

Less spin, better analysis and more action please Minister!

The Pay Equity Challenge Coalition are very concerned that the Minister of Women Affairs completely missed any reference in her press release today to the most important statistic in the Annual Income Survey.

The minuscule increase in the median hourly earnings overall, which is the smallest increase since 2011, and well below the rate of inflation has a big impact on low income people.

“It would have been good and right to focus on that, instead the Minister focused the median hourly earnings. Why? Because it shows the narrowest gap and tells the best story!” says Angela McLeod, spokesperson.

One of the reasons for the apparent narrowing pay gap may be increased joblessness among women. Statistics New Zealand point out that there were 24,900 fewer low income people in paid work than last year, which is one of the reasons that median earnings increased for all wage and salary earners. If there are fewer people in low income work, then the median of those that are left goes up even if no-one got a pay rise.

“Women were over-represented among those 24,900, making up over half of them. So the faster rise in the female median wage may be due to the misfortune of low income women losing their jobs.”

Looking at the average hourly earnings gap shows a very different story.

“This gap has widened from a gap of a lousy 13.4% to an even bigger and more concerning 14.1% gap. This is far wider than the median hourly gap.

”An explanation for this may be that there are more men than women getting higher incomes.

We think these statistics need a far more sophisticated response than using the best and most favourable figures and then attributing these to Government programmes that have nothing to do with narrowing the gender pay gap.

“They can’t be used to justify a complete lack of any programmes to focus on increasing the rates of pay for low income women.

“Worse still is that median weekly earnings show a gender pay gap of 28% and for self employed women it is even worse – a whopping 43% gap. This is a whole lot less earning power.

We are astounded that the Minister would think these figures are something to crow about. They are not.

“Action on the gender pay gap is still very much needed”.


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