Unemployment at record lows but we need to lift wage growth


The Chair of the National Maori Authority, Matthew Tukaki, has welcomed the fall in unemployment rates to the lowest in nearly a year but cautioned the positive news with the message that more needs to be done to lift wage growth particularly for Maori and Pacific workers. Tukaki also indicated that the fall to 4% was a long way from the fears of large scale unemployment rates in the late double digits predicted to impact Maori as COVID19 set in.


Official data shows the jobless rate in the June quarter fell to 4 percent, from 4.7 percent in the previous quarter.


“12 months ago the fear was unemployment would be in double digit figures but actually the fall to 4% is better than predicted before the pandemic even hit. The number of unemployed people fell by 12.4 percent - the largest quarterly percentage fall in unemployment since Stats NZ's Household Labour Force Survey began in 1986 and on top of this the economy gained 28,000 jobs during the quarter. That on any stretch is a remarkable feat given what is happening globally” Tukaki said


“But with all the good news we still need to keep our eye on underemployment whereby people are working a mix of both casual and part time jobs but still not making enough to keep up with the rising cost of living and also wage growth more generally. It is no secret I want to see wage growth in those job industries with predominant Maori and Pacific workforces because that’s where a lot of the risk is” Tukaki said


“We also need to be mindful that we are close to full employment – that means we need to start planning now for where we have in demand roles particular in mental health, nursing and teaching and where we might acquire or grow those skills. For example, what can we do now to interest young people into in demand sectors of work but also create options for a second career for those in their latter years – in other words the fifty ups.” Tukaki said

“It may also be the case that we need to look at asking people to hold off on fully retiring to stay in work a little longer as we grow our national skills base” Tukaki


“But all in all this is a great result from the Government given what is happening at the moment.” Tukaki said


Tukaki is also the former head of the world’s oldest and one of the largest employment companies, Drake International, and guided the company through the global financial crisis of 2007 – 2010.

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