This is the plain, unvarnished truth that most New Zealanders don’t know; don’t understand, and quite frankly, many do not want to know or understand. For many – especially National/Act supporters living in their own fantasyland – this is the reality that would shatter their comfortable upper-middle-class world-view.
First, read Mike Treen’s excellent analysis on The Daily Blog, on 30 January;
(Note the pathetic and largely ineffectual attempts by right wing blogger; self-proclaimed “social welfare expert”; and ex-Act candidate, Lindsay Mitchell, and one or two other National Party supporters to undermine Mike’s analysis. They are unable to address or answer even the most simple points Mike and others have raised.)
Then, read Matt McCarten’s piece in the NZ Herald, a few days later;
And now, here’s the ‘kicker‘;
According to Statistics New Zealand, which carries out both the five yearly Census as well as the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS), the definition of an employed person is so loose and wide-ranging as to make the term meaningless;
About the Household Labour Force Survey
The Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) provides a regular, timely, and comprehensive portrayal of New Zealand’s labour force. Each quarter, Statistics NZ produces a range of statistics relating to employment, unemployment, and people not in the labour force.
The survey started in October 1985 and the first results published were for the March 1986 quarter.
The labour force category to which a person is assigned depends on their actual activity during a survey reference week.
This section includes definitions used in the HLFS release. These conform closely to the international standard definitions specified by the International Labour Organization.
Employed: people in the working-age population who, during the reference week, did one of the following:
worked for one hour or more for pay or profit in the context of an employee/employer relationship or self-employment
worked without pay for one hour or more in work which contributed directly to the operation of a farm, business, or professional practice owned or operated by a relative
had a job but were not at work due to: own illness or injury, personal or family responsibilities, bad weather or mechanical breakdown, direct involvement in an industrial dispute, or leave or holiday.
So, if you “worked for one hour” – even without pay! ” – you are automatically classed as employed by this country’s statisticians.
No wonder that the Roy Morgan poll consistently reports that New Zealand has a higher unemployment rate than is generally reported by Statistic NZ’s HLFS or Census.
- It appears that our stats are horribly wrong and are under-stating the severity of unemployment in New Zealand by several degrees of magnitude,
- Lower unemployment figures suit the agendas of successive governments (National, as well as Labour-led),
- Community organisations are over-worked struggling to put band-aids on the growing problem of hidden unemployment,
- New Zealand as a whole suffers through loss of productivity; increasing costs due to poverty; and other socio-economic problems.
When a government agency purports to measure employment and unemployment, and defines being employed as “working for one hour or more”, either paid or unpaid, those are not statistics – they are a sick joke. In effect, we are fooling ourselves as a nation that we have “low unemployment”.
These are not facts – they are propaganda; half-truths; mis-information; lies-dressed-up-as-comforting-facts. The reality – unpalatable as it may be for many – is that our unemployment is much, much worse than we have been led to believe.
If New Zealanders want to keep up this pretense, they will eventually have to “pay the Piper”, as societal problems worsen. And then, the rioting begins.
Note: For future reference, any subsequent use of Statistics NZ data referring to unemployment, in any upcoming blogposts, will carry the caveat;
“Definition of Employed (by Statistics NZ) includes any person who is;
- anyone working for only one hour (or more)
- anyone not paid for their labour
Accordingly, Statistics NZ information may not present a fully accurate picture of this country’s unemployment/employment rates.”
*** Up-date ***
Interestingly, as Radio NZ reported, “the fall in unemployment did not match the pick up in jobs, due to more people searching for work“.
This ties in with the fact that “employment” is defined as anyone working for one hour (or more).
If more people are looking for work, this suggests any number of factors,
- The HLFS survey is failing to pick up accurate numbers of unemployment,
- Statistics NZ’s definition for unemployed is too narrow,
- The number of under-employed is (as Roy Morgan reveals) so high as to mask real unemployment.
Also interesting to note that the drop in the HLFS survey results mirror the fall in Roy Morgans polling, further lending credibility to the latter.
Statistics NZ: Hours Worked in Employment
Scoop News: New Zealand Real Unemployment at 9.1%
Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: June 2012 quarter
The Daily Blog: EXCLUSIVE: Billions of dollars stolen from the unemployed
Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: September 2013 quarter
Statistics NZ: Labour market statistics for the December 2013 quarter
Radio NZ: Unemployment falls to 6 percent
Previous related blogposts
Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 February 2014.
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