Closing the gap with Australia and stemming the trans-Tasman brain drain is one of the Government’s main long-term aims but Labour leader Phil Goff said the reverse was happening.
“Australian employment figures have soared for the fourth straight month and the jobless rate has fallen to 5.5 percent, a full percentage below New Zealand’s unemployment,” he said.
“For the first time in more than a decade, Australian unemployment levels over the past six months are lower than New Zealand, with Treasury forecasts that New Zealand’s unemployment will continue to grow.”
Now it is true that unemployment is now higher in New Zealand than Australia, and this is not good. Unemployment is a lose-lose. Having able bodied people not working means we don’t achieve as high economic growth as we could, and it is bad fiscally as it means less tax paid, and higher welfare payments.
But unemployment tends to rise when economic growth falls away. Not straight away but normally with a lag of six to 12 months or so. So let us look at economic growth between NZ and Australia.
So why does Australia now have lower unemployment? Because New Zealand went into recession, and Australia did not. And no this was not a post credit crisis recession. New Zealand’s economy started shrinking in the first quarter of 2008, and kept shrinking until the second quarter of 2009.
Now people may be wondering who was responsible for the economy in the first quarter of 2008. Well a Phil Goff was an Associate Minister of Finance. So when Phil wonders why Australia now has lower unemployment than NZ, he doesn’t have to go far to ask how come.