In 1995, there were 700,000 fewer working-aged people in New Zealand than there are in 2017. But there are over 5,000 fewer people reporting being unemployed in 2017.
Or compare it to the overheated mid-2000s. When unemployment was at its lowest ebb, in 2008, there were just under 80,000 unemployed people, 624,000 not in the labour force, and a working-age population of just under 2.8 million.
The 2017 figures have just over 280,000 more working-aged people than 2009 but a total labour force that’s almost 300,000 people larger: 18,600 fewer people report not being in the labour force. 248,000 more people in employment. There are just under 51,000 more people reporting being unemployed now than there were then, but the labour force participation rate is 2.6 percentage points higher and the employment rate is 1.3 percentage points higher.
The employment rate among people aged 15-64 is 76.1%. There is no year, going back to 1987, that had it that high. The labour force participation rate for that age group is 80.3% – also the highest in the data going back 30 years. Only minor caveat is that hours worked are growing less quickly, although that wouldn’t be surprising either if some shifting into the labour force are picking up part-time rather than full-time work.
We should be shouting from the rooftops about how superbly the New Zealand economy has grown to match the growth in those wanting to be employed here. Whatever your concerns about immigration, dey terk yer jerb shouldn’t be one of them.
The graph Eric has blogged is worth looking at, as it is very powerful. It basically shows that we’ve managed to increase the working age population by 700,000 and have almost no increase in the numbers not in the labour force or unemployed.
This is a tribute not to any Government, but to the NZ economy. It shows that we have a flexible economy that is providing jobs for those who want them.