For the higher paid
from The Jobs Letter No.92 / 16 December 1998
In the last issue of The Jobs Letter, we reported on US trends towards working longer hours ... especially for those who have more qualifications. The Labour Department here in NZ can now confirm that the same trends are visible in this country _ with higher paid people working almost eight hours a week longer than they did when economic deregulation started in 1984.
Department economist Sylvia Dixon told a conference at Victoria University last month that working hours have increased for all groups since 1984 but especially for those on top incomes. The lowest-paid tenth of male fulltime workers are working an average of two hours a week longer up from 42.7 hours in 1984 to 44.9 hours last year. In contrast, the highest-paid tenth of male fulltime workers are now working almost eight hours a week longer than in 1984 up from 46.3 hours to 53.9 hours on average.
Dixon cautions that the Statistics Department survey, from which these figures come, may be unreliable because high-paid people may be more likely to over-state their working hours, than those working fixed hours. But it was still likely that high-paid people were working longer. Dixon: "In the public service 10 years ago people worked 37.5 hours a week ... Now they work any number of hours..."
Heather Kirkwood of Statistics NZ reports that 19% of men in fulltime employment (excluding the self- employed) worked at least 60 hours a week at the time of the 1996 census. Another 21% worked between 50 and 59 hours a week. Only 53% worked 40-49 hours a week and 7% worked 30-39 hours a week. These figures exclude part-time workers.
Women in fulltime employment are also working longer. 9% of women are working at least 60 hours a week, and 11% work 50-59 hours. Only 53% work 40-49 hours a week, and 27% work 30-39 hours.
A massive 61% of men working fulltime in farming and fishing work more than 50 hours a week, including 40% working at least 60 hours. A similar 60% of male legislators, administrators and managers work more than 50 hours a week, including 27% who work at least 60 hours.
Other groups with large proportions of men working at least 50 hours a week include the armed forces (43%), professionals (42%), plant and machinery operators (39%) and technicians (33 %). Heather Kirkwood finds that men's extra working hours are the largest single factor explaining why men in fulltime employment earn 26% more than women in an average week.
However, Kirkwood also finds that all the measures she tested working hours, occupation, educational qualifications, age and ethnicity account for only a little over a quarter of the gap between men's and women's earnings. The other three-quarters could not be explained by these factors, and may reflect genuine discrimination against women.