More People Employed – Now Wages Need To Rise

Credit: Original article can be found here

“The news that the number of people who are unemployed
has decreased to pre-covid level of 4% is welcomed by the
Council of Trade Unions”, said CTU Economist and Director of
Policy Craig Renney.

“The labour market now looks as
if it has recovered in large part from the shock of the
global pandemic. Employment rates for both men and women
have improved significantly. The government can righty be
proud of its efforts in keeping people in work, and in
managing the virus in Aotearoa.”

“We now need to see
pay for working people match the good news on employment.
73% of Kiwis received a pay increase of less than inflation
last year according to the Labour Cost Index. Annual hourly
earnings growth is the same as it was in 2019 pre-COVID, and
is less than it was in December 2021 according to the
Quarterly Economic Survey. Increases in wages seems to be
coming from New Zealanders working longer hours, with
overtime hours up 22.8%.”

“More work is needed on
improving our ‘underemployment’ rates, these are still
above pre-covid rates, and for women is more than twice the
rate than it is for men. These are people who want more work
but can’t get it. The unemployment rate fell for Maori and
Pacific Peoples to 7.8%, but it is still more than double
the rate of Europeans (3.1%). Unemployment for 20-24 years
at 6.8% is more than double the rate of those aged 30 and
over. We have some distance to go before we have truly
delivered maximum sustainable employment.”

Aotearoa is doing well with unemployment falling to rates
that place us 8th overall in the OECD – below rates found in
the US, UK, Australia, and Canada. The challenge ahead of us
is to make sure that we are really embedding the success
story of our COVID response so that it is delivering for
working New Zealanders. The data today suggests that we are
on the right path, and Fair Pay Agreements will help in this
regard in the future. But there is much to go before we can
fully claim success”, Renney


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