12 October 2006


The New Zealand Social Report 2006 reports that in 2005 3.7% of the labour force were unemployed and actively seeking work. Sounds really good, eh?

But what does that really mean?

On the next page of the same report it says that in 2005, 74.6% of 15-64 year olds were employed for one hour or more per week. Wouldn't that mean that effectively 25,4% of all 15-64 year olds were unemployed?

Measuring unemployment seems to be a very dodgy thing. It is only indirectly connected with the number of people who are actually not working at all or working without pay. Many people seem to fall through the cracks of this statistic, like:

  • Those who have lost their jobs and have become discouraged over time from actively looking for work.
  • Those who are self-employed or wish to become self-employed, such as tradesmen or building contractors or IT consultants.
  • Those who have retired before the official retirement age but would still like to work.
  • Those on disability pensions who, while not possessing full health, still wish to work in occupations suitable for their medical conditions.
  • Those who work for payment for as little as one hour per week but would like to work full-time. These people are "involuntary part-time" workers.
  • Those who are underemployed, e.g., a computer programmer who is working in a retail store until he can find a permanent job.
And what about those people who do essential community work, like raising children, helping their neighbours and volunteering for a local not-for-profit organisation? This kind of activities are completely igonored by our social and economic reporting methods.

No comments: