Some good news

March 20th, 2012 at 3:11 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour improved 3.5 per cent in the year to March 2010, according to new Statistics New Zealand figures.

In part that reflected fewer workers in manufacturing, building and business services with those remaining producing more each.

The standout sectors were communications services, with productivity up 12.4 per cent in the year to March 2010, and finance and insurance up 7 per cent.

There was strong growth in productivity for the goods producing sector, up 3.8 per cent, and the service sector, up 3.3 per cent.

Labour productivity growth is important and 3.5% isn’t too bad. However the way it has come about is sub-optimal:

Labour productivity is the amount of goods and services produced by each worker. The declines in labour input were greater than that for output, resulting in labour productivity growth for these sectors.

Obviously the recession impacted. Ideally what we want is labour inputs increasing, but outputs increasing even faster.

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5 Responses to “Some good news”

  1. MT_Tinman (2,793 comments) says:

    How do they know?

    I assume “labour productivity” measures the output (or otherwise) of employed people but how does one measure the productivity of a CEO, a mathematician, a judge, a politician, a policeman or the many other jobs that do not produce physical goods or services?

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  2. anonymouse (652 comments) says:

    The problem with these productivity figures from Stats is that they are so out of date they are next to useless other than as a statistical curiosity.

    According to the HLFS over the year to March 2010

    The total number of people employed in NZ fell by 2,000
    The number unemployed rose by 23,000 and those not in the labour force went up by 28,000.
    The unemployment rate rose from 5.1 to 6.0%

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  3. PaulL (5,776 comments) says:

    Labour productivity is always subject to these effects. If we figure that the lowest productivity people are last to get hired, and first to get fired, then when we have high employment we tend to have lower productivity, and vice versa. This doesn’t matter long term – it’s only a few percent either way and averages out over time. But for short term movement you have to be very careful that the employment rate hasn’t changed significantly.

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  4. Inky_the_Red (719 comments) says:

    If you look at the stats there is a large correlation between unemployment and labour productivity.

    If ‘good news’ is New Zealander can’t find jobs then what is bad news?

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  5. Alan Wilkinson (1,798 comments) says:

    Save money and abolish the stats dept. Most of what it does is completely useless including producing productivity data that is two years old.

    Let private enterprise produce timely and cost-effective data instead.

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