Clint’s trendy job chart criticised

Green’s Hey Clint published a manufacturing jobs chart on Twitter which he claimed showed trends. There are a number of problems with it.

@ClintVSmith: Here’s an update on manufacturing jobs under National

Charting purists jumped on an obvious point.

@keith_ng: Starting the axis at 160k for an area-based representation. GRRR. #cheating

@hamiskofoed: you have misrepresented that graph with the jobs number starting at $160k. U should correct it and re tweet

@sakkaden: you have misrepresented that graph with the jobs number starting at $160k. U should correct it and re tweet

@sakkaden: I do this for a living. Use a line graph if omitting zero. Amputated bars are a high school level failure.

@isaacfreedom: Vertical axis should start at zero, otherwise you exaggerate proportion of change, which isn’t cool.

Clint defended his choice of scale and bars but accepted the criticism.

I had it as a line graph but annoying to make part red part blue in excel.

Zero not compulsory, scale narrower so u can c trend still down. shld hv been line but multi-colour line hard in excel

Next time i’ll do line, as with the previous graphs I’ve done on this topics.

So here’s what it looks like as a line graph.

Manufacturing QES line scaledHmmm, does the trend look like it’s changing? Here it is with the full height Axis, which is less dramatic.

Manufacturing QES unscaledThe visual trend there looks like jobs have dropped a bit with our recession followed by the Global Financial Crisis plus two major Christchurch earthquakes and it has leveled off – with possibly the start of a very modest recovery.

This is what Clint said about it:

The trend since the recession ended is -500 jobs per quarter

My count is from start of the GFC, mid 2008, when manu jobs went from steady ~230 to ~190K in a year.

When did the recession end? According to Wikipedia:

The financial crisis of 2007–2008, also known as the Global Financial Crisis and 2008 financial crisis, is considered by many economists the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The crisis played a significant role in the failure of key businesses, declines in consumer wealth estimated in trillions of U.S. dollars, and a downturn in economic activity leading to the 2008–2012 global recession.

To my eye manufacturing jobs bottomed out in 2012 and since then is a hint of recovery.

Yeah, it’s the lack of recovery, in fact, continued decline, that’s the problem

It doesn’t look like a continuing decline to me. And blaming it on National is a bit picky, the rest of the world has seen a manufacturing decline through the recession. Australia:

It represents a hollowing-out of traditional manufacturing in Australia, with the sector now accounting for just 6 per cent to 7 per cent of economic output. Employment in the sector fell by 140,000, or 13 per cent, between the year 2000 and November last year. New South Wales lost 52,900 jobs, or 18.5 per cent of its manufacturing workforce over the 13-year period. Victoria was hit even harder. It shed 95,100 jobs, more than 29 per cent of its manufacturing workforce.

Australia is yet to be hit by the closure of major car manufacturing plants which will result in a further 50,000 job losses.

So what does the overall job trend look like?

All jobs QESCherry picking data and choosing a chart style to suit making a point is easy.  But there’s a lot more to job trends than a Green political diss.

Greens have been proposing Green jobs, in part through manufacturing green energy thingies. There’s a bit of that happening but it can be a very expensive sector to invest in. And it’s very difficult competing in manufacturing with China and India, as the rest of the world is finding.

green job, also called a green-collar job is, according to the United Nations Environment Program, “work in agricultural, manufacturing, research and development (R&D), administrative, and service activities that contribute(s) substantially to preserving or restoring environmental quality.

Specifically, but not exclusively, this includes jobs that help to protect ecosystems and biodiversity; reduce energy, materials, and water consumption through high efficiency strategies; de-carbonize the economy; and minimize or altogether avoid generation of all forms of waste and pollution.

Green Party Green jobs:

We have a practical economic plan that creates decent jobs, adds resilience to our economy, and protects our natural environment. It is a plan for clean green prosperity for all New Zealanders.

Our plan will create 100,000 new jobs through direct government investment in housing, by ensuring our state-owned energy companies capture the massive export opportunities in the renewable energy sector, and, most importantly, by shifting the drivers for green jobs in the private sector

How are they going to do it?

Our plan is detailed and fully-costed. It includes plans for direct government investment, building sustainable infrastructure, supporting the greening of our small and medium enterprises (SMEs), driving innovation, introducing smarter regulation, getting the prices of resources and pollution right, protecting our brand, reforming capital markets, making our workplaces fairer, and measuring progress differently.

So far it’s very vague and idealistic. Some Green ‘highlights’:

Direct investment
We will ramp-up the Heat Smart home insulation programme ensuring it is rolled out to a further 200,000 homes over the next three years, costing $350 million and employing 4,000 people directly — 10,400 if you include indirect and upstream employment effects.

That’s an extension of a scheme that’s been running for several years. It’s not clear how many additional jobs would be created by a Green ‘ramp-up’.

From my own experience it can be as cost effective doing this without a Government subsidy because that is inflating prices. I bought a heat pump at least as cheaply as I would have if I used a subsidy and I had more choice doing it through the open market.

Keep it Kiwi
We will retain ownership of our state-owned enterprises while creating the right incentives for them to partner with clean tech entrepreneurs in the private sector and develop renewable energy solutions that we can patent and export abroad. With the right incentives in place, if we can capture just 1% of the global market for renewable energy solutions, we’ll create a $6 to $8 billion export industry employing 47,000–65,000 people in new green jobs.

Very idealistic and vague. This would require large Government investment in high risk enterprises. If it was a viable market it would be happening of it’s own accord – green tech has often proven to be very expensive.

Support for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
Through a mix of government procurement policies, tax incentives, start-up funding, and a $1 billion boost to R&D funding, we’ll support SMEs to step up and rive new job creation in the cleantech sector.

More idealistic vagueness. See 100,000 green jobs for New Zealanders (PDF) –

I welcome a chart from Clint showing projected job growth through these policies over the next (say) ten years. Here is another  Green graphic:

Wind power. Apart from the obvious problem that wind power must work alongside other power generation to cover times that not enough wind is blowing (some of the coldest time in winter is calm and frosty weather) there is a an ironic issue – environmental protest.

Wind power plan cancelled

Meridian Energy has decided not to go ahead with their plan to put 176 wind turbines in Central Otago. Local people set up a protest group. This group has spent a lot of time and money fighting to stop Meridian Energy for the last six years.

An earlier plan by Meridian Energy for hydro power from the Waitaki River in Otago was cancelled in 2004, partly because of protests from local groups.

Would a Green government ban environmental protesters so they can proceed with green energy projects?

I’m sure Greens could create some green jobs – at a cost. But it will be challenging to do it in an economically sustainable way – a lot more difficult than adding a Green line (or blocks) to a campaign chart.