[Sitting date: 03 May 2012. Volume:679;Page:1938. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
JACINDA ARDERN (Labour) to the
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment: Does the most recent National Employment Indicator show that there are more or fewer jobs now than when his Government came into office in 2008?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment)
: The National Employment Indicator indicates there were 12,000 fewer jobs in February 2012 than there were in December 2008. I would point out to the member, though, that the National Employment Indicator is an experimental series and it does have a number of shortcomings, including the fact that it ignores self-employed workers in the results. A better measure of the number of people in jobs is the household labour force survey, which was released just this morning. That showed an
increase of 36,000 jobs compared with the September 2008 quarter. If you consider the impact of the global financial crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes, this is actually a very considerable achievement and reinforces the Government’s aim of creating the right environment for competitive businesses to establish and grow in, creating more jobs and higher wages.
Su’a William Sio: Is he aware that there are 55,000 more unemployed since his Government took office, when the Prime Minister promised to do something about it—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How many?
Su’a William Sio: —55,000 thousand—and given that unemployment now is the highest in 18 months, when can the New Zealand public expect to see the so-called brighter future?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: In fact, the number of people who are obtaining an unemployment benefit has been reducing over the last 12 months, and in fact the number of young people on an unemployment benefit has now dropped to around 15,000. So that is good progress. But the member omits from his question the context of the challenges that the Government has been facing economically. Of course, we have had the Canterbury earthquakes, which have been very damaging to Canterbury.
Hon Members: Oh!
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, people in Canterbury are still concerned about them. We have also had the global financial crisis, and the interesting thing about the global financial crisis is that it has hit most countries considerably harder than it has hit New Zealand.
Su’a William Sio: Is he aware that the number of unemployed has gone up by 9,000 in the last 3 months alone, and when will his Government admit that its failed policies of merging departments, selling assets, and clamping down on beneficiaries are not creating growth or employment?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The household labour force survey shows that the number of jobs in the New Zealand economy has gone up 9,000 in the last 3 months.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: No.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: That is correct, and, Winston, you should read the bit of paper. It has gone up 9,000 in the last 3 months. The number of people available for work has also increased by 18,000, which has given us the highest labour force participation rate since late 2008, which is very encouraging. The member needs to look across the seas and look at what is happening in the rest of the world, where we have massive unemployment. The current Euro-level unemployment rate is now nearly 11 percent, and across the whole of the European Union it is 10 percent. So New Zealand’s unemployment rate is actually pretty reasonable by comparison.
Jacinda Ardern: Given today’s announcement that the number of young people not in training, education, or employment has increased to 87,000, will he review his Government’s policy to cut Youth Transition Services for anyone over the age of 17?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I do not think the member’s assertion is remotely correct in the second half of her question. But I would point out that there are some interesting numbers within those “neets” figures. The encouraging part of the “neets” figures is that the number of 15 to 19-year-olds who are “neets” has dropped down to 8.9 percent. I think that is very, very encouraging from the point of view of everybody who is working—
Hon Trevor Mallard: From where?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: From nearly 10 percent, Mr Mallard. For the 20 to 24-year-olds the number has gone up. I have checked that with the Department of Labour and Statistics New Zealand, and they said that has flown through from the previous numbers for 15 to 19-year-olds. So what that shows is that our policies are having some good
impacts on the 15 to 19-year-olds, but the high levels we inherited prior to that are still moving through the system.
Jacinda Ardern: Do he and the Government now acknowledge that his job growth predictions are wrong, his predictions that unemployment would decrease are wrong, and his assumption in the welfare reforms that Kiwis do not want to work has been proven wrong; and when will he apologise to the people of New Zealand for the reduction in the number of jobs and opportunities available to them?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The member is wrong. The reality is that the number of jobs in the New Zealand economy has lifted by 9,000 in the last quarter. This is actually now, according to the household labour force survey, the highest number of jobs this country has ever had. We also have an unusually high participation rate, and that has resulted in a lift in the measured unemployment rate. But actually there has been some good success. There is always more to do, but I would note in regard to the member’s concern about “neets” that during the last 5 years of the Labour Government, when unemployment was lower because of the stronger world economy, the “neets” figure never went far below 10 or 12 percent.