Friday, March 27, 2020

US versus NZ unemployment benefits

According to RNZ:
The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits surged to a record of more than 3 million last week as strict measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic brought the country to a sudden halt.
That's less than 1 percent of the US population.


The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending March 7 was 2,006,363, a decrease of 80,856 from the previous week. There were 2,039,322 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2019. 

In New Zealand, before the pandemic, there were 147,000 jobseekers claiming benefits - 3% of our population.

Yes there are all sorts of barriers to even claiming an unemployment benefit in the US, and over 3 million new claims in a week is extraordinary but some context is always useful and interesting.

We won't know here until later in April how our numbers are faring (unless a non-normal announcement is made). And then the numbers on Jobseeker will have to be set alongside the numbers on wage subsidies to provide a real measure of compensated 'unemployment'.

What we do know is that MSD is struggling to deal with the level of inquiry and application from individuals. People are reporting wait times of over two hours which is impossible to accommodate for some mobile phone users.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Arbitrary and unjustified closure of businesses

A small community.

A smallish supermarket, a dairy, a butcher, a green grocer and a bottle store.

Now only the first two have state permission to continue to trade.

The butcher and green grocer have existed under the same owners for a long time. They know their clients - many elderly - very well. They deliver to them. They chat, are on first name basis. They have occupied their premises long-term and serve a community function beyond their brief. They provide an essential service.

In the time they have traded, the supermarket has changed hands 3 or 4 times. The current owners do not know the community to the same extent.

Under Covid 19 Level 4 powers, all of the trading ability has been stolen from 3 and gifted to 2.


With two open, people will continue to come to the village and shop. The supermarket will require more staff  increasing potential exposure between staff and customer, thereby nullifying the decrease in potential exposure between butcher, greengrocer and customer. The supermarket presents far more opportunity to touch produce and surfaces than the butcher and greengrocer where you ask for what you want.

This is another authoritarian ruling that is ill-founded and illogical.

(And I can't find a link but it seemed that Katherine Rich from the Food and Grocery Council was today hinting that the supermarkets may soon be able to supply liquor for delivery. A full hand.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Coronavirus edicts

1/ Don't 'panic' buy, or stock up.

Better to go frequently to the supermarket for what you need so as to ... minimise contact?


2/ Don't take your families in people-carriers to one of the many New Zealand beaches or reserves where it is eminently possible to find a quiet spot to hang out with your 'bubble' humans and animals privately.

Please stay home within the confines of your compressed, crowded house.


3/ Do not indulge in any truly solitary pursuits like hunting or fishing from your dinghy because you may have a mishap and require emergency services like the police.

They won't be available because they will be employed at checkpoints making sure that you don't go on any solitary pursuits

... or distracted by family violence call outs.

Before you go off at me for not 'getting with the programme', I am following directions unfailingly. Most people are at this stage.

But as pressure builds, illogical and inconsistent edicts will bring this endeavour down very quickly.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Australia doubles benefit rates

Australia will double benefit rates to deal with coronavirus:

People newly made redundant will have financial commitments well beyond the prior Newstart Allowance (but wasn't that always the case for individuals before this crisis?)

To meet these needs, and as a result, everybody on a benefit pre-March 20 has it doubled. 

It's only for 6 months ...

BUT what will the reaction be when benefits are halved??