More Kiwis in work as wages keep pace with inflation

Finance Social Development and Employment

More than 110,000 people joined the paid workforce in the past year as the number of those in jobs hit a record high. Wages continue to outpace inflation as the Government’s economic plan supports businesses to add jobs and grow wages and ease cost of living pressures, Grant Robertson said.

“People in work in record numbers and robust wage growth is a positive result in what is a challenging global environment. The economy added 113,000 jobs in the June year and average hourly wage wages rose 6.9 percent to $39.53, keeping pace with inflation.

We know that many Kiwis are doing it tough in the face of cost of living pressures, but they do so while in paid work and with wages growing faster than inflation. That helps ease some of the pressure they are under.”

Stats NZ reported that unemployment rose slightly to 3.6 percent due to a rise in the working age population and people made themselves available to work.

“Our economic plan is working. We have added 322,000 jobs since 2017, unemployment continues to be relatively low, firms are continuing to hire despite an uncertain global environment and inflation is heading in the right direction,” Grant Robertson said.

“The economy has been resilient but continuing global pressures are a considerable risk with the IMF last week warning about China’s economy and a challenging global outlook. The Government is doing its bit in response to this and take pressure off by restraining spending. Further hard choices may be required as we navigate a pathway through a deteriorating global environment.

“We are continuing to work hard to lower costs for Kiwis and make our economy stronger now and for the long term, with investments in skills, infrastructure and innovation.

“The Government is taking a range of actions to ease the pressure on Kiwi budgets, with cheaper childcare, free prescriptions and half priced public transport for young Kiwis coming. The incomes of seniors, families, workers and students has been lifted significantly while the Winter Energy Payment provides cost of living relief for electricity bills.

“We are investing in building the productive capacity of the economy. More than 200,000 people are in apprenticeships and trade training, research and development spending hit record levels last year and we’re investing in digital and technology such as games development to build for the future. Infrastructure spending will top $71 billion over the next five years, with another $6 billion in the National Resilience Plan to build back better.

“The Government has supported business to make it easier to attract overseas workers. Since the full reopening of our borders a year ago, we have approved over 2.1 million people to visit, study, or work in New Zealand. This includes over 1.7 million visitors, over 48,000 international students, over 70,000 accredited employer work visas, and over 60,000 working holiday visas,” Grant Robertson said.

“More young people are engaged in employment, education and training, with a fall in the NEET rate from 12.4 percent to 10.8 percent,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“This reflects our focus on getting young people ready for work through such programmes such as the Apprenticeship Boost Scheme which has seen 60,000 apprentices supported by the Scheme. There are also more people earning, learning or upskilling through other employment programmes like Mana in Mahi, Māori Trades and Training and He Poutama Rangatahi.

“Māori unemployment has fallen, with more in paid work, while the Pacific unemployment rate rose slightly. Overall, it shows our interventions are working and are key to unlocking the potential of Kiwis as well as bolstering the workforce and our economy,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

On comparable measures, New Zealand’s 3.6 percent unemployment rate matches Australia and the US, and is below the 4 percent in the UK and 5.2 percent in Canada. The OECD average is 4.8 percent.

“Our focus continues to be on keeping the economy moving in the right direction. Unemployment is forecast to rise in a deteriorating global economy. We will continue to continue to invest in creating the conditions for better-paying high quality jobs, growing wages and more opportunities in a fiscally sustainable manner. Our job is far from over,” Grant Robertson said.