To this Letters Main Page

Last Diary

Next Diary

To the Index







    Letter No.96
    19 February, 1999

    3 February 1999

    Associate Work and Income NZ Minister Peter McCardle reports that about 80 people per day are being taken onto the community wage scheme. From October 1st 98 to the middle of January 99, about 2,100 groups have been enlisted to take 8,300 people onto the scheme, according to a study by the Community Employment Group.

    WINZ spokesperson Robert Brewer says that 190 people had their benefits reduced during October and November because of non-compliance with the community work scheme. This is 3.4 people per day or roughly 4% of the people required to use the scheme.

    4 February 1999

    Unemployment is at its highest level in five years, according to figures released by Statistics NZ. Overall unemployment is now 7.7%, up 18,000 people from the same time last year.

    Maori unemployment is now at 19.5%, also the highest since 1994. The Minister of Maori Affairs Tau Henare comes under ridicule by opposition parties for being ineffectual on employment issues.

    Forestry company Carter Holt Harvey will shed 400 jobs over the next two months. Chief executive John Faraci says the cuts will bring Carter's workforce down from 12,200 three years ago to 10,000 people. He says the latest staff reduction should be the last in the company's current restructuring.

    6 February 1999

    Finance Minister Bill English signals a change in the government's financial and social policies. English says that an ideological commitment to shrinking the level of government expenditure is no longer practical. He is critical of people who are calling for reduced services and not taking into account what NZ'ers expect from their government.

    7 February 1999

    The Labour Party selects John Tamihere as its candidate for the Hauraki Maori seat. Tamihere says that if Maori are to unleash their huge potential they will have to "get off their backsides, snap out of denial and stop blaming everyone else for their problems". Tamihere also calls for a change to the way Maori services are delivered: "Let's stop this massive bureaucracy of vested interest in our continued failure ..."

    Information Technology is one of the few industries expecting substantial job growth this year. IT recruitment agencies say they will not be able to fill all the expected vacancies. Most positions are in networking and PC support, internet services, and work that requires specific software knowledge, especially languages for programming.

    The Information Technology recruitment company Candle says that most people stay in the same IT job for an average of 2.5 years. About 85% of IT jobs are permanent, and the remaining 15% are on term contracts.

    8 February 1999

    The merger of the Community Funding Agency with the Children, Young Persons and their Families Service last month has so far resulted in only three redundancies, all in the national office.

    10 February 1999

    Roger Kerr, Business Roundtable chief executive, tells the Parliamentary finance and expenditure select committee that managers should be allowed to legally discriminate on the basis of sex, age and disability.

    The US unemployment rate remains at 4.3%, the lowest in 28 years. The breakdown is 3.8% for whites, 7.8% for blacks and 6.6% for Hispanics. These are also the lowest levels for blacks and Hispanics since the early 1970's when racially segregated unemployment statistics began being kept.

    Unemployment has risen dramatically in Germany. Official joblessness went from 10.9% in December to 11.5% in January.

    11 February 1999

    Work testing of beneficiaries is about to be extended in Britain. Social Security Secretary Alistair Darling announces that all people registering for welfare benefits will have to attend an interview to determine why they are not working and what help may be available for them getting work. Darling says that those who failed to attend interviews will lose their benefits.

    Three thousand jobless teenagers in Australia have lost their youth allowance for failing to turn up to school or training. The rule has applied since Jan 1st. According to The Australian, 10,000 teenagers initially had their payments cancelled, but 7,000 have since had their payment reinstated after reapplying, getting exemptions, or demonstrating that they will return to school or training.

    14 February 1999

    Aucklanders earn, on average, $8,000 more than the national average, according to Auckland Profile, a booklet prepared by Auckland regional planners. But are they better off? The booklet goes on to say Aucklanders pay substantially more for their housing: $66/wk more in rent or over $60,000 more to buy a house. While food is cheaper in Auckland, insurance costs are higher and the booklet says it is difficult to put a price on traffic congestion. But Auckland is where the jobs are. In December there were 535,400 jobs in the Auckland area, nearly a third of the national total.

    Deutsche Bank's NZ chief economist Ulf Schoefisch is predicting the NZ economy will grow by 3% this year. Schoefisch says low interest rates, recent tax cuts and a competitive exchange rate all bode well for NZ and, if world economic conditions improve, the year 2000 could see 4% growth. Deutsche Bank is also revising down its forecast of unemployment saying it will peak at the present 7.7%.

    16 February 1999

    Institute of Building executive director Gary Tye says the stand-off between the Building and Construction ITO and the polytechs is causing increasing concern. The Building ITO has told Skill NZ that it wants to do away with the off-site polytech training of carpentry apprentices. Tye supports the polytech view that having builders themselves provide theoretical training for apprentices is "patently absurd" and doomed to fail. Tye: "There's also the danger that fewer employers would be prepared to take on apprentices and the result could be catastrophic for the industry ..."

    17 February 1999

    A Wanganui man has gone into hiding after the local WINZ office gave his name to the friend he had "dobbed in" for benefit crime.

    18 February 1999

    Twenty unemployed Maori people in Rotorua have just completed a special pilot course preparing them for entry into police training. The course, sponsored by WINZ and the police, is aimed at getting more Maori people into the police, particularly in places like Rotorua where only 4% of the police force is Maori, while 70% of the crime has been committed by Maori people.

    24 February 1999

    Higher unemployment because of last year's recession has seen salary and wage rates rising at their slowest rate for 2½ years. Wages and salaries rose 0.4% in the December quarter, and the annual increase was 1.8%.

    A New Plymouth student trying to phone through to the WINZ Palmerston North student services office had to wait 90 minutes listening to the overloaded department's music. "I could have driven halfway there in that time," says the student, who reported that one of the songs played to her was the Split Enz hit "I See Red". The allowances used to be processed on each tertiary campus.

    WINZ spokesman Warren Hudson estimates that the average waiting time on the 0800 line is about 30 minutes. Hudson: "We have had a few teething problems ..."

    25 February 1999

    A new US study shows that many families wouldn't be in poverty if women who work outside the home were paid at a level comparable to men for comparable work.

    The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that there are 3.6 million Australians outside the workforce, who are neither officially employed nor unemployed. Of this 3.6 million `hidden unemployed' people, 1.2 million could start work within four weeks if the right job came up. Most of the others have chosen not to work for personal reasons (study, sickness, raising children, etc), while 59,000 people have given up looking for jobs and around 111,000 are discouraged job seekers.

    The Employers Federation is opposed to the Paid Parental Leave Bill, arguing that bosses should not have to pay for a responsibility which is not theirs.

    The office of the Commissioner for Children is "gravely concerned" that at-risk children may suffer because of budget blow-outs at the Children, Young Persons and the Families Agency.

    26 February 1999

    The National Bank's survey of business confidence shows that it has reached its highest level in five years. The bank says the latest survey shows "a bright, bright sunshiny day..."

    ACT complains to WINZ Minister Peter McCardle that many cash-strapped students are being left without their allowances because of WINZ computer glitches as well as delays in processing their applications. ACT has written to every tertiary institute to urge them to make the plight of their students known to McCardle. Muriel Newman: "While WINZ sort out their computer problems, it is totally unacceptable for the department to expect students to live on nothing ..."

    27 February 1999

    CNN reports that unemployment in South Korea is at an historic high, with the threat of widespread social unrest.

    28 February 1999

    Labour's Steve Maharey complains that WINZ spent more than $22,000 flying managers to a New Plymouth conference where staff split into groups and staged a mock wedding symbolising the "marriage" between Income Support and NZ Employment Service. He says that the mock wedding reception named participating groups as "fruitcakes", "champagne" and "frilly garters".

    1 March 1999

    An Education Ministry survey finds that more than two thirds of the teachers in NZ schools are women. The gender imbalance is particularly marked at primary schools. Roger Tobin of the PPTA says the imbalance raises the question of whether there is a real commitment to having male teachers as role models for male children.

    2 March 1999

    Social Democrats from throughout much of Europe have been meeting in Milan to agree on a common plan for creating jobs across the subcontinent. La Tribune from Paris reports they have adopted a plan inspired by the policies of American Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan and President Clinton. It represents a significant shift for Social Democrats from an emphasis on greater government spending to easier monetary policy.

    The Labour Party says it will scrap the government's scheme to fund children from poor families to go to private schools.

    Housing NZ has sold 1,967 homes nationally since July 1998, but only 20% have been bought by tenants under the government's home buy scheme.

    A survey by the University of Waikato's Management Centre shows that three quarters of the 2000 firms surveyed nationwide are not aware of the government's new initiatives for enterprise development. The survey finds that most firms are unaware of the scrapping of the Business Development Board ... and those that were, thought the move undesirable.

    3 March 1999

    Alliance education spokesperson Dr Liz Gordon reports that the student loan debt has doubled in the last two years and says it can be considered a social crisis. The average student now owes $10,600 up from $5,020 in 1997. Gordon: "The Government will be lending a billion dollars a year to students in five years time if current rates of increase continue ..."

    New figures from the Ministry of Education show that school suspensions rose to nearly 12,000 last year. The Ministry says the number of suspensions for 1998 was up by nearly 600 from 1997. The category accounting for the greatest number of suspensions in the fourth quarter 1998 was continual disobedience; followed by physical assault on other students; and suspensions for verbal assault on staff.

    To the Top
    Top of Page
    This Letter's Main Page
    Stats | Subscribe | Index |
    The Jobs Letter Home Page | The Website Home Page
    The Jobs Research Trust -- a not-for-profit Charitable Trust
    constituted in 1994
    We publish The Jobs Letter