|No.166||17 May 2002||Essential Information on an Essential Issue|
of key events over the last few weeks.
STATISTICS THAT MATTER
GROWTH’S DAUNTING ARITHMETIC
TMP BEHIND YOUTH EMPLOYMENT PROJECT
WORKAHOLIC PARENTS AND TEENAGERS
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Index to Features
18 April 2002
250 staff at Lakeview Farm Fresh meat processing works in Levin have been laid-off as the company goes into receivership.
21 April 2002
A study has found that women who work during pregnancy are five times more likely to develop health conditions related to high blood pressure than those who are not in the paid workforce.
The International Monetary Fund predicts NZ economic growth to be 2.6% this next year.
22 April 2002
A study has been completed on the state of the NZ health industry workforce finding that worker shortages exist from junior doctors to nurses to many types of medical specialist. Recruitment and retention difficulties, a lack of training places, poor morale and no clear career pathways are contributing to the shortages.
An on-line entitlement calculator has been launched which will give detailed information about paid parental leave. It can be found on the website of the Department of Labour's Employment Relations Service here
23 April 2002
Prime Minister Helen Clark says that nearly 1,000 people will be in forestry training by the end of this year. Clark says this is a 100% increase from four years ago and that plans are in place to increase forestry training places by another 100% over the next five years.
Employment in film and video production has increased by 30% over the last two years. A report by the Institute of Economic Research says the production of "The Lord of the Rings" is likely to help triple or even quadruple the amount of annual film industry activity in NZ.
There was a record 25,600 net inflow of long-term immigrants to NZ in the year to March.
24 April 2002
Argentina faces further disruption as banks close, after being unable to accommodate the demand for cash withdrawals. The International Monetary Fund has refused to authorise loans to Argentina unless the country's civil service budget is slashed. But with unemployment well over 20%, regional governors have not agreed to cut jobs.
26 April 2002
The National Party would make changes to the Employment Relations Act but not repeal it. The proposals for change include creating a 90-day trial period for new workers in which dismissal and grievance provisions would not apply. National MP Simon Power says that businesses have been worried about taking on people that they perceive to be a bit more risky because of the potential for those types of actions to be brought.
Alliance leader Laila Harre says the National Party employment policy would lower the standards for workers and was not way to increase employment. She says that an "anything goes" approach to the first three months of employment would allow unfair treatment to go unchecked and discourage young workers rather than help them.
The PSA is also disappointed with the National party employment policy. National Secretary Richard Wagstaff says the 90-day period for new employees goes further than the old Employment Contracts Act in terms of undermining the workers security of employment. Wagstaff: "It also fails to recognise that when things are not working there is a process to work it through..."
A Wellington stand at a jobs expo in London in October claims to have drawn 62 NZ'ers back home according to recruitment stall holder Richard Manthel, who says he is aware of another 102 people planning to return within six months.
Telecommunications giant Seimens announces 6,500 new job cuts after cutting 20,000 jobs last year. The corporation employs 443,000 people.
ACT MP Muriel Newman releases official figures which show that almost 5,000 New Zealanders have been on the sickness benefit for more than 10 years each.
29 April 2002
Minister of Immigration Lianne Dalziel clarifies the details of the "Work-to-Residence-Programme" to provide a fast-track through immigration for companies wanting to hire skilled overseas workers. The programme will allow companies to circumvent all but the health and character checks for targeted workers, and it simplifies the process of hiring people in priority occupations like secondary teachers, medical specialists, nurses and IT professionals. Successful working immigrants will qualify as NZ residents after two years.
Overdue student loan penalties have increased by 80% over the last year and there is now more than $60 million in penalties owing. The average penalty owing for a person living in NZ is $1,020, while the average penalty debt for an NZ'er living overseas is $4,057.
30 April 2002
The South Australian Mitsubishi plant says it needs $A85 million in Australian government support to stay open and create 1,300 new jobs. The federal government gave the company $A200 million last year.
1 May 2002
Wellington and Southland-Clutha are to pilot an initiative that aims to address skills shortages through facilitated immigration. The trial is a collaborative effort between the Immigration Service and the development agencies in the regions.
Alliance leader Laila Harre launches the "Four Weeks Annual Leave Campaign", a bid to gain an extra week of holidays for all New Zealanders. Harre: "It's thiry years since workers last got an increase in their annual leave entitlement, and we think they've earned another week off."
Census figures show Auckland and Wellington are leading destinations for the internal migration of workers. Manawatu, Wanganui and Southland are losing the most people.
Private sector annual wages rose 2.5% while public sector wages rose 7.3% over the last year.
2 May 2002
The government announces its decisions on the review of the Training Opportunities and Youth Training programmes. The Review Team wants programme delivery to be more flexible in meeting the changing needs of learners and the labour market; programmes to be better integrated within the range of educational opportunities and employment assistance; better coordination between government agencies; and programme outcomes to be better specified to focus on sustainable employment, and/or further education and training.
A full copy of the Review Team's report can be downloaded from here.
Green Employment spokesperson Sue Bradford says she welcomes support from the Alliance for the Green policy of four weeks annual leave for workers. Bradford says she personally believes that a 35-hr week, such as has been successfully introduced in France, could also be implemented in New Zealand.
3 May 2002
NZ industries showing the greatest job growth in the year to February were manufacturing (13,500 new jobs), transport storage and communications (9,700 new jobs), and construction (8,600 new jobs).
Feltex Carpets is seeking 70 more workers at its Lower hutt carpet yarn plant, as it aims to lift production more than 50 per cent.
Figures published by Act MP Muriel Newman indicate more than 6,000 people on the unemployment benefit have been on one kind of benefit or another for more than ten years. Newman says that living on a benefit was a "lifetime option" for some.
NZ is one of the least expensive places for foreign tertiary students to travel to to study. IDP Education Australia compared the cost to foreign students to study and live in NZ, Australia, the UK, Canada and the US found NZ to be consistently the cheapest option.
4 May 2002
A new beef jerky plant in South Auckland has created 200 new jobs. Jack Link's CEO John Corner says 95% of the first employee intake are long-term unemployed and that the company has worked with Winz to select the staff. Staff numbers are expected to double within two years.
Minister of Tertiary Education Steve Maharey reveals proposed changes to the student loan scheme. They include limiting the amount of money students can borrow, introducing deadlines for repaying loans and encouragement to families to put money away for their children's future education.
5 May 2002
Figures obtained from Winz under the Official Information Act show that there are nearly 100,000 people in the Domestic Purposes benefit, and nearly 750 of these single parents have continuously claimed the DPB for more than 20 years.
Students say they are insulted by the government's proposed changes to the student loan scheme. University Student Association president Andrew Campbell says a savings scheme was unfair and suggesting that students could borrow less was offensive.
Campbell is also critical of the government considering a scheme to encourage families to put money away for their children's future education. Campbell: "On the face of it, such a scheme may look like a good idea to some people. However, to fund a degree, parents would have to save $18 per week, per child, from the child's birth ... this would be impossible for many families."
6 May 2002
The ANZ Australian job ads survey finds a 24% increase in April.
8 May 2002
A speech in which Minister Laila Harre criticises the social policy of the coalition government has been removed from the government website.
9 May 2002
The latest Corrections Association newsletter criticises the Corrections Department saying the Department is using its inmate employment industries to make a profit off cheap labour at the expense of private businesses and inmate rehabilitation. About 2,500 inmates are employed by CIE, a branch of Corrections, which runs businesses including farms and nurseries. Prisoners are paid an average of $12 a week, compared to the statutory minimum wage of $320 a week. Last year, Corrections made $22.5 million from timber, livestock and prison industry sales.
10 May 2002
Unemployment stands at 5.3%, a drop of 0.1% over last quarter.
A Christchurch coroner finds that work stress was the principal factor behind the suicide of a depressed ANZ worker.
A TMP Worldwide consultancy survey of New Zealand workers has found that 88% of employees are affected by workplace stress, and 12% of blue collar workers are "on the verge of blowing up".
14 May 2002
490 more redundancies will come from the merger of TelstraSaturn and Clear Communitications bringing the total redundancies now to 650 people. Those made redundant have found the job market in the telecommunications sector particularly sluggish. Telecom, the biggest competitor to TelstraClear, has cut its workforce by nearly 5% over the last year.
15 May 2002
The Reserve Bank pushes the official cash rate up to 5.5%, the third rise in as many months, in an effort to beat inflation pressures. Council of Trade Unions economist Peter Conway says this lift in interest rates could slow economic and job growth.
Ag-Connect, the Taranaki farming recruitment initiative run by Winz and former Federated Farmers president Kevin Phillips, has placed more than 70 people into full-time jobs in the farming sector in just 10 months. Phillips says that there is a widely-held perception that entry-level farming jobs involve huge hours for low pay. But farmers are now having to compete for staff which means pay and conditions have improved significantly.
The government offers universities, colleges of education, polytechs and wananga a 4.5% funding increase next year in return for a fees freeze for students for the third year in a row.
STRONG GROWTH IN JOBS
over the past two years, 104,000 new jobs have been created, an increase of 5.9%.
there are 12,000 fewer long-term unemployed now than there were two years ago, a reduction over that period of over 30%.
the labour force participation rate has risen to 66.9% from 66.3%.
the increase in 63,000 jobs in the last year have been about equally divided between full and part-time employment.
there has been strong job growth for Maori and Pacific Island people. The unemployment rate for Maori has fallen to 10.8% this year, from 14.6% in 2000. Pacific Island unemployment has also fallen to 9.7% from 12.3%. The Pakeha unemployment rate is steady at 4.2%
there has also been strong growth in the regions. The unemployment rate for Gisborne-Hawkes Bay is 4.9%, down from 6.6% a year ago. Manawatu and Wanganui's rate has dropped to 6.2% from 6.5%. Northland's unemployment rate is still high at 10.5%.
the employment growth was much stronger than had been expected by economic commentators. A newspaper poll of forecasters predicted the average employment growth would be 0.4%. The growth figure came in at 1.3%.
there are still over 100,000 part-time workers who would prefer to be working more hours.
The ANZ Bank job advertisements survey shows that more companies are looking for workers, with almost 30,000 jobs advertised last month (a rise of 6.3%) ... indicating that many more people could find work in the months ahead. ANZ chief economist David Drage notes that if the participation rate had not risen in the last quarter, the unemployment rate would have been 4.7%. Drage: "Given how high the participation rate is now, we could see the unemployment rate drop below 5% later this year, for the first time since March 1988."
The increased participation rate has also coincided with strong net immigration figures about 25,000 over the past year. Drage: "Both returning New Zealanders and new arrivals seem to be more likely to be seeking work..."
Where are the jobs coming from? There has been a sharp rise in the number of people working in government jobs in health and education. BNZ economist Stephen Toplis says that this has accounted for nearly 70% of the increase in total jobs in the past 12 months. Toplis: "In the past 12 months, the state sector has been the major contributor to jobs."
Economists in the media are also pointing to strong growth in the rural economy in the past two years, with more farm jobs and jobs in rural towns. Lower interest rates, rising consumer spending and home building has also boosted demand for workers in the retail and construction sectors.
In the United States, the unemployment rate has reached 6% the highest point in nearly eight years. The number of US workers collecting unemployment benefits at the end of March has risen to 3.78 million the highest level recorded in 19 years.
VOICES: ON THE STATISTICS
Sources Statistics New Zealand Household Labour force Survey March 2002 quarter; The Dominion 10 May 2002 "Job stats: its off to work we go" by James Weir; The Daily News 10 May 2002 "Unemployment rate drops slightly to 5.3%" by NZPA; The Daily News 10 May 2002 "Job ads bounce back from slump" by NZPA; New Zealand Herald 10 May 2002 "Employment grows as Kiwis and migrants settle" and "Growth's daunting arithmetic" by Brian Fallow; www.scoop.co.nz 14 May 2002 "More jobs, reduced unemployment, policies are delivering what's the alternative" by Paulo Politico; Press Release NZ Government (Steve Maharey) 9 May 2002 "Impressive job growth reflects success of policies"; Press Release NZ Council of Trade Unions 9 May 2002 "No room for complacency on unemployment" by Peter Conway; Data Flash ANZ Job Ads Survey April 2002 10 May 2002 by Deutsche Bank New Zealand; Data Flash Household Labour Force Survey Q1 2002 by Darren Gibbs Deutsche Bank New Zealand; Associated Press Yahoo News 3 May 2002 "Jobless rate hits 6 per cent" by Jeannine Aversa; www.forbes.com 13 April 2002 "US jobless claims hit highest level in 19 years" by Kate Randall; New Zealand Herald 10 May 2002 "Job losses spring surprise" by Bloomberg.
GROWTH'S DAUNTING ARITHMETIC
Cullen has said that he would like to lift New Zealand's sustainable long-term growth rate to 4% within five years. Twenty years of growth at this pace would put us back into the top half of the OECD ranking of countries.
Brian Fallow, Economics Editor at the New Zealand Herald, points out however that the labour market arithmetic behind such an aspiration is pretty daunting. He explains that a 4% growth rate would require us to double the rate at which the workforce has expanded over the past 20 years, in defiance of the demographic trends. It would also require a revolutionary doubling of productivity growth for two decades.
Fallow: "Over the past 10 years, two-thirds of the growth has come from an increase in hours worked, rather than productivity gains. The problem with this is that the statisticians expect growth in the workforce to fall away sharply over the next 20 years, to the point where it would be shrinking by 2021 as the baby-boomers retire. If we were looking for workforce growth to contribute half of the desired 4% trend growth, the workforce would have to be growing by 2%, or around 40,000 people, a year."
Where would these 40,000 people-a-year come from? Some, hopefully, from among the ranks of the unemployed. But Fallow's view is that the big and easy gains from reducing unemployment have already been made: "Further reductions in unemployment will have to overcome greater difficulties in the areas of skills and attitudes, and all the vexed issues of the interface between the welfare system and the labour market..."
arithmetic" by Brian Fallow, available online at New Zealand Herald
NZIER ON ECONOMIC GROWTH
NZIER also predicts that Southland, Taranaki, Auckland, Manawatu and Wanganui will be the economic powerhouses over the next four years.
Sources NZIER Press Release "Key points from NZIER's "New Zealand Industries and regions: outlook and issues to 2006", available at www.nzier.org.nz New Zealand Herald 29 April 2002 "Ageing society stunts growth" by Jim Eagles
NATIONAL'S PLAN FOR JOBS
The proposal is part of National's election-year workplace policies released last month. National leader Bill English says that the 90-day trial period would be optional, and would have to be agreed between the prospective worker and the employer. English: "This takes no rights away from what people currently enjoy. However, it does give people who find it hard getting work older workers, younger people, migrants, people with disabilities and those trying to get off benefits a chance to have a go and prove themselves..."
"Creating a Better Workplace" National Party election policy, available on the National Party website at www.national.org.nz/wcontent.asp?PageID=100004850 (No longer available)
Sources New Zealand Herald 26 April 2002 "National's plans for more jobs" by Kevin Taylor; "Howard backs off hard line for new sacking law" by Greg Ansley; Press Release ACT NZ (Richard Prebble) 26 April 2002 "National's Industrial relations Policy too timid"; Press Release Employers and Manufacturers Assoc (Peter Tritt) 26 April 2002 "Grievance free employment period fully backed";
TMP BEHIND YOUTH EMPLOYMENT PROJECT
The project aims to "lead NZ Business in their role of ensuring current employment or training for all young New Zealanders by 2005". The Youth Employment Project will deliver a concise NZ industry guide on the `why' and `how' for stimulating youth employment. The guide will aim to motivate NZBCSD members to commit to youth employment targets or projects and to report annually on progress. The project will also establish a website to promote the "business case" for getting involved in with youth employment issues.
Member companies at the forefront of this project include: The Warehouse, Urgent Couriers, Money Matters, City Care, Fonterra and Milburn Cement.
Further information on the Youth Employment project can be found on the NZBCSD website at www.nzbcsd.org.nz/project.asp?ProjectID=7
Source The Jobs Letter editor vivian Hutchinson attended the NZBCSD launch meeting on April 2002; Press Release TMP Business Consulting (Tony Teesdale) April 2002 "TMP Business Consulting Assists Youth Employment Project"
THE WAY WE WORK
Check out the website at www.cbc.ca/news/work/
BUDGET TRICKLES OUT
Over the last three weeks, these announcements have included:
$186.8 million over four years for Housing that will enable 360 new state homes to be built and the problem of substandard housing in some areas to be tackled. (Housing Minister Mark Gosche).
$27.3 million additional funding over four years for vocational services for people with disabilities (Disability Issues Minister Ruth Dyson). This would include $24.5 million to implement the Government's vocational services strategy and $2.7 million to repeal the Disabled Persons Employment Promotion Act and revise the workers' permit system.
$2 million for a network of regional case managers to assist businesses that have a "high growth potential" (Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton).
$535,000 to enable 20 voluntary or community organisations to benefit from having a paid intern help their operation for six months (Green MP Sue Bradford).
$484,000 for the Student Job Service SNAP programme matching students with business skill shortages (Jim Anderton, and Employment Minister Steve Maharey).
$8 million additional funding over four years for the Adult Literacy Strategy (Associate Education Minister Marian Hobbs).
$2.3 million additional funding over four years to to recruit a further 250 to 500 caregivers a year and help caregiver agencies (Social Services Minister Steve Maharey).
$11.6 million over four years to improve the information available on skills needed in the economy (Employment Minister Steve Maharey). The funding will support an integrated website which would be a "shopping mall" for job-seekers and employers; a six-monthly skills report summarising existing information on the supply and demand for skills; a new survey on job vacancies to improve knowledge of the demand for skills; and a survey on the employment and earnings outcomes for tertiary graduates.
ongoing Budget announcements can be read at www.beehive.govt.nz/budget/2002/home.cfm
Sources Press Releases from the NZ Government Budget website at www.beehive.govt.nz/budget/; New Zealand Herald 8 May 2002 "Budget's gems slow to shine",
LOCKWOOD ON THE DEBTS
Smith: "It has always worried me that people have felt this desperate need to pay it back. That has never been the deal. The deal was that when you got a higher income than the average person then you would have to pay it back, And if you did not, then I would argue that people should not have to worry about it."
Source The Dominion 27 April 2002 "Student debt can remain unpaid, says ex-Minister" by Leah Haines
TEENAGERS AND WORKAHOLIC PARENTS
Speaking to the UK National Family and Parenting Institute, Robert Blum recommends that parents should make themselves available to their children at four key times of day early mornings, immediately after school, suppertime and bedtime without distractions such as television.
Blum also reports that his study dispels the myth that single parents are to blame for juvenile delinquency. Instead, it finds that workaholic parents with no time to listen to their older children pose a greater threat to their children's well-being. The study also found that teenagers working more than 20 hours per week are more at risk of drug and alcohol use and early sex.
The first report on the survey was produced Robert Blum and Peggy Rinehart in 1997. It found that independent of race, ethnicity, family structure and poverty status, adolescents who feel connected to their parents, families, schools and community are healthier than those who are not. "Connected" teenagers are far less likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol, become depressed, have early sexual experiences or become pregnant.
"Connections that Make a Difference in the Lives of Youth" by Robert Blum and Peggy Rinehart (PDF format, 923kb 40 pg) download from http://allaboutkids.umn.edu/cfahad/Reducing_the_risk.pdf
Source - New Zealand Herald 24 April 2002 "Workaholic risk to teens" originally in The Observer 14 April 2002 "Workaholic parents cause delinquency" by Gaby Hinsliffh6>