“Full employment”

Labour campaigned on “full employment”, but it was sometimes not quite full.

On 4 July this year Labour’;s then spokesperson for finance, Grant Robertson, said in a speech titled The Future of Work and Labour’s Economic Vision:

Just to refresh. The Labour Party believes in full employment- anyone who can work should be able to work. As Minister of Finance I will re-assert Labour’s historic mission of full employment. In the first term of government we will lower unemployment to 4%.

And we want all parts of the economic apparatus working towards that goal. That is why we will expand the objectives of the Reserve Bank to include not just controlling inflation, but also maximising employment.

Interviewed on The Nation on 22 July (before she took over the leadership) Jacinda Ardern said that while 4% unemployment was their target she wanted to aim for “full employment”.

Owen: You raised jobs, so let’s go there. Labour’s aiming to get unemployment down from 5% to 4%. In real terms, how many jobs is that and how are you going to do it?

Ardern: Yeah, we are, and we’ve talked about some of the specific ideas that we’ve had. For instance—

Owen: Sorry, how many jobs will that be in real terms?

Ardern: Well, we’ve said we want to drop it down to 4% as a target. I can’t give you the specific number that that generates.

Owen: So about 25,000.

Ardern: We’ve set 4% as a target, but we are a party that believes in full employment. I want to make that point.

Owen: …we’re circling back round to the fact that your critics would say you’re not being that ambitious. We’re getting there anyway — 4.3%. You’re offering us 0.3%. Is that enough to motivate people to change, which is what you want them to do.

Ardern: And as I say, we’ve set some targets, but, actually, we are a party, as I say, is ambitious enough to say that, actually, what we want is full employment. We will never be satisfied as long we have anyone—

Owen: But that’s not the target you’ve set in the short term. The target you’ve set is this, which is so close to National’s, it could be National’s.

Ardern: We’ve set a target that allows us to make some projections around the kind of spending in investment in other areas. But, as I say, as much as we’ve got a number in this fiscal plan, our target is that as long as there is anyone who is unable to work because they cannot find employment, that isn’t supported, that doesn’t have the dignity of that work, we will not be satisfied. Yeah, we put a number on it. We believe in full employment. That’s bold.

A few days ago as Ardern was set to become Prime Minister, NBR:  Ardern says unemployment should be below 4%

Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand’s unemployment rate should be below 4%.

She says GDP is “barely growing” and unemployment is stuck at 5% but she says it should be below 4%.

Our unemployment actually dropped to 4.8% in the three months to June, the lowest it has been since the Global Financial Crisis hit in 2008.

Lowering unemployment down further, especially below 4%, will be challenging, although it got as low as 3.7% in 2007.

‘Full employment’ implies virtually zero unemployment, something that is unlikely to be attained. All governments aim for as low unemployment as possible. Sometimes outside influences, like the GFC, work against that.

Pushing up minimum wages significantly may or may nor impact negatively on employment. Same for changes to the 90 day trial period legislation.

Shane Jones, incoming Minister for Regional Development, says he will push for more employment in the regions and has said that both a carrot and stick approaches will be needed. This has already met with union resistance.

NZH:  Unions slam ‘work-for-dole’ proposal

The newly-appointed Minister for Regional Economic Development said today he had been encouraged to look into the idea as part of the $1 billion extra funding to go to regional New Zealand.

Jones said it was not just about regional GDP or giving people who weren’t working the opportunity to find employment,

The Government was also promising to plant 100 million trees a year.

“As we plant indigenous trees I’m going to get my indigenous nephews off their nono and they’re going to go to work”.

First Union general secretary Robert Reid said the entire union movement was implacably opposed to the idea.

“It’s long-standing policy for the union movement right from when it was tried by the National Government in the 1990s.

“What we are in favour of is work-for-wages schemes for unemployed people, even on a temporary basis like the 1970s and ’80s schemes.”

Reid said this would give workers the dignity of working for a proper pay packet as opposed to the indignity of working for the dole.

Greens may resist the stick side of that, having “remove excessive sanctions” from the welfare system written in their agreement with Labour and having campaigned on effectively ‘no questions asked’ benefits that may make it difficult to push those people with entrenched habits of unemployment into work.

Everyone benefits from better wages and more employment, and less unemployment, but the last 4-5% may be difficult to deal with.

 

Leave a comment

35 Comments

  1. David

     /  29th October 2017

    When we hit 3.7% and it was a great figure we had alongside that a huge rise in the number of people on sickness benefits. The HLFS is a quite flawed measure so lets see what happens with the labour participation rate, benefit numbers, NIETs which are real numbers. The HLFS includes 16 year olds at school looking for holiday work for example but leaves out a 45 year old woman who has given up looking for work because nothing is available.

    Reply
  2. Blazer

     /  29th October 2017

    My understanding is there is no longer a sickness benefit.As you say the way unemployment has been measured is ludicrous.I HR work a week =EMPLOYED.

    Reply
    • “I HR work a week =EMPLOYED.”

      How else would you measure employment?

      If the definition of employment for statistics was something like ‘all the hours per week a person wants to work’ then ‘unemployment’ of 20% would probably be difficult to achieve, let alone 4% or ‘full employment’.

      Do you think that Labour’s ‘full employment’ should mean 100% of people working full time?

      Reply
      • I’d be surprised if anyone was working one hour a week and if this was considered to be employed.

        It seems odd that the age still seems to start at 15 when the school leaving age is 16.

        Why should working for the UB be an indignity ? When Task Force Green was in. it was 20 hours and the UB was upped by $20. Sue Bradford et al squawked loud and long that this was slave labour-$1 an hour ! In fact, when the then UB was divided by 20, the hourly rate was quite good.

        Reply
        • David

           /  29th October 2017

          What about a tree planter who is going to have his wages undercut by free labour, hardly fair. Probably the only time I agree with a union

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  29th October 2017

            I heard someone say that he doesn’t belong to the union now because it’s $7 a week for nothing . The non-union workers still get the pay rises and other things.

            I can see why there are reservations about prisoners working, but it must be good for them…it’s a dilemma.

            Reply
      • Blazer

         /  29th October 2017

        I would say a minimum of 20 hrs work a week would be ..employed.

        Reply
        • Unless someone wants to work less than that.

          At 20 hours per week what do you think that ‘unemployment rate’ would be now, and what do you think would be a realistic target?

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  29th October 2017

            I can’t see the point in making wild guesses.Unemployment should be measured from age 18-65.Most capitalist countries seem to accept 4-5% unemployed as acceptable for the economy.

            Reply
            • “Most capitalist countries seem to accept 4-5% unemployed as acceptable for the economy.”

              Any of them on a 20 hour per week basis?

            • Gezza

               /  29th October 2017

              Part-time and full-time employees
              Whether you’re considered to be part-time or full-time depends on how many hours you have to work. Employment legislation doesn’t define what full-time or part-time work is, but full-time work is often considered to be around 35 to 40 hours a week. For statistical purposes, Statistics New Zealand (external link) defines full-time as working 30 hours or more per week. You have exactly the same employment rights and responsibilities if you’re a part-time or full-time employee.

              https://www.employment.govt.nz/starting-employment/who-is-an-employee/types-of-employee/

  3. adamsmith1922

     /  29th October 2017

    It is my understanding that most economists would tend to the view that ‘full employment’ is between 3% to 5% unemployed depending on the nature of the economy. Given that Robertson states all the time that we must raise productivity this tends to suggest that full employment might be closer to 5% than 3%.

    Furthermore I suggest that this remark by Ms Ardern, quoted above, gives rise to concern:-

    “But, as I say, as much as we’ve got a number in this fiscal plan, our target is that as long as there is anyone who is unable to work because they cannot find employment, that isn’t supported, that doesn’t have the dignity of that work, we will not be satisfied”

    This suggests that Labour could be contemplating make work schemes, which are not jobs, but ways of massaging statistics and contribute very little to economic growth, indeed may well hinder it.

    Reply
    • [Deleted improper name] using weasel words.

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  29th October 2017

      There’s nothing wrong with “work for dole + a bit more schemes” per se,
      But yeah, as always, administering them, and the way an out of touch bureaucracy is always incompetent at the job of vetting, approving, and then monitoring them turns out to be the biggest problem.

      Rorting, shambolic accounting and unaccounted for missing money, and less actual return (thus value for taxpayers’ money) than paying people to sit on their arses – it costs less – seem to be the usual reason these schemes fail. That, and embarrassment as yet another scheme is shown to suffer from these defects.

      If someone can come up with a better system, go for it, but forcing people who don’t want to work to do so totally ignores their inventiveness too.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  29th October 2017

        The best paid ‘work for the dole’ scheme is clearly working for the…Super City.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  29th October 2017

          🤔 👍🏼

          Good point. But surely ratepayers would be even less keen on paying ASS comms staff to stay home & do absolutely nothing than they are now on paying them to do sod-all? Anyway, they proba ly are working – they’re probably knocking up internal Powerpoint presentations & videos explaining to middle & senior management and contractors the latest management fad theory being adopted to ensure greater efficiencies are achieved – once more managers are hired to specifically manage that Initiative.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  29th October 2017

            That’s how things were done every three years or so in my department when I was working for the government anyway. I think there are quite a few similarities with large Councils. The same Consultants do the rounds.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  29th October 2017

              I remember there was a T.V show Gliding On ,about how diligent Govt workers were.

            • Gezza

               /  29th October 2017

              Yes. And the funny thing was it was absolutely true – at the time.
              The supervisory staff were middle-aged to elderly cardy wearers, walk shorts & knee high socks. There was an office dress code when I joined my second department, it infuriated the younger female staff, they were not alliwed by the official Director’s Policy to wear trousers or trouser suits, had to be skirts or dresses.

              Colin from Admin, two years to retirement, walked thru all the floors of all the divisions with a clipboard every two days and it had nothing on it & that’s precisely what he did.

              The Records Section employed several people who were disabled or (truly) mentally retarded but all were well known & liked and doing something they enjoyed & living as normally as possible.

              One of my bosses would go into apoplectic rages & we’d all have to avoid him, his 2-i-c blamed his blood pressure, until he returned yo normal. He was hilarious on the plonk, a gifted, dry, comedian.

              The place was full of characters.

              It changed completely after the Douglas Administration stole power.

  4. Seabird

     /  29th October 2017

    Jones said “As we plant indigenous trees I’m going to get my indigenous nephews off their nono and they’re going to go to work”.
    Where the hell are these trees coming from? Do they expect them just to materialize out of thin air?
    A pine tree takes at least a year to grow before it is planted. “Indigenous” trees take longer than this, more like two years. So these trees are not going to be planted out till at least 2019. What a load of crock.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  29th October 2017

      Gotta start investing for the future somewhere though? Obviously they’ll be hoping for 2 more terms. Everybody does these days. Then outski for a bit to weed out the rot.

      Reply
  5. Let’s talk the (what I call whacky) work for dole forestry scheme. This is an industry where drug testing is employed mandatorily.

    I’m thinking plant trees on Maori land, use the unemployed, drug testing, legalise recreational cannabis.

    How will this go then?

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  29th October 2017

      Could end up badly ..with some people..’outta their…tree’.

      Reply
      • Quite…. wonder how many of them will pass a drug test?

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  29th October 2017

          I think those guys are nga Pakeha, trav.

          Good point though. There are issues around testing for cannabis use because it stays detectable in the blood or whatever system they use for I think up to 14 days or so – looong after the few hours when it has any appreciable effect on cognitive function or coodination.

          P use might be another matter though. Dunno if I’d want to be working with P users, but I bet not.

          Reply
        • Isn’t that a musical instrument ?

          Reply
  6. Pensioners flock to take up apprenticeships

    More than 2,600 took up starter jobs in the past year despite being at the end of their working lives.

    In the past six years 14,160 men and women over 60 have been taken on as trainees.

    Politicians say it shows that “lifelong learning” is alive and well and proves you’re never too old.

    According to an answer given to the House of Commons, 2,650 men and women over 60 began an apprenticeship in 2016/17.

    That’s higher than the previous best figure back in 2011/12.

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/872503/Pensioners-apprenticeships-UK-pension-working-House-of-Commons

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s