All three metro editorials today are on the employment figures. We start with the NZ Herald:
More worrying, the latest quarterly employment survey suggests the number of people in jobs has declined on a scale unseen since 1989. The drop in employment can be greater than the rise in unemployment because the latter excludes people who are not actively looking for another job.
Then the Dom Post:
Social Development Minister Ruth Dyson may want people to think it’s “a very small change, actually” but the biggest fall in employment since the 1980s should not be brushed off by politicians or by Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard, writes The Dominion Post. …
There is little room for the blithe optimism of Ms Dyson, who told Radio New Zealand after Statistics New Zealand data showed a fall of 29,000 or 1.3 per cent in seasonally adjusted employment during the March quarter, that people should not over-react. Those who have lost jobs or who are finding it harder to get one will be more inclined to accept the view that the figures are, as Westpac economist Brendon O’Donovan said, “an absolute shocker”. …
Dr Cullen has continually preached that he knew how to spend money better than those who earned it, and refused to deliver tax cuts. He argued that if he left more in workers’ pockets they would only spend more and fuel inflation. At the same time he indulged his ministers, and allowed a rapid growth in government spending that contributed to the Reserve Bank keeping interest rates high. That spending has too often been of low quality, or designed to serve a political purpose rather than deliver a real benefit to taxpayers. The absurdity of maintaining the district health board bureaucracy when the real decisions are still made in the Beehive is just one illustration of that.
The hope must be that as Dr Cullen has drawn up his Budget he has taken a rigorous look at spending to ensure that it is delivering maximum efficiency, and not incidentally to reduce the pressure from government spending on inflation.
And finally The Press:
The statistics appeared to suggest that this was not the case. In the first three months of the year, the economy lost 29,000 jobs. More than 24,000 dropped out of the labour force — they were no longer counted as being in work or looking for it — and unemployment went up by 4000, or 5.5 per cent. It was all the more surprising because it came after an uninterrupted spell of rosy employment news and was the largest decline in employment in 19 years. …
Funnily enough, none of the newspapers are agreeing with Ruth Dyson that the loss of 29,000 jobs is not bad news at all actually, or that it is insignificant.