Saturday, November 07, 2020

The gendered impact of COVID-19 on employment

The repeated and popular news story is how much worse women's employment was hit by the Covid crisis.

Stats NZ issued a release saying "Women have fared worse than men across key labour market measures..."

I'd have thought that the numbers having to resort to benefits was also a key measure.

Those numbers tell a different story.

My suggestion is this.

Men whose sole source of income was their job have fared worse since Covid 19.

Friday, November 06, 2020

Are beneficiary incomes too low?

 The new government is going to come under a great deal of pressure to lift beneficiary incomes from many quarters: CPAG, AAAP, Salvation Army, The Christian Council of Social Services, to name a few advocacy groups. Their parliamentary partners, the Greens, will also be exerting pressure.

Are beneficiary incomes too low?

One way of looking at it is, how do they compare internationally?

Below I have charted the assistance available to a single parent in Australia versus a single parent in New Zealand. I've only included the major income components: basic benefit rate, family tax credits for children and accommodation assistance. Certainly in NZ there is extra assistance available via special grants for additional accommodation needs, food etc. As well in Australia anyone currently on a benefit is receiving a Corona Virus $125 weekly supplement until December 31, 2020. That is not included. I modelled a parent with young children as that is when they are most likely to be on income support.

Although NZ's basic benefit rate is lower, family tax credits are slightly higher and maximum accommodation supplements are a lot higher resulting in a substantial difference between total incomes. Yes, its slightly cheaper to rent in Brisbane than Auckland but the government is only going to pick up a small portion of the cost.


Thursday, November 05, 2020

Unemployment rate versus Jobseeker uptake

The following graphs compare the September 2020 unemployment data released yesterday by Stats NZ with corresponding MSD Jobseeker benefit data. The first is a regional breakdown of the % of working age population on the Jobseeker benefit versus the regional unemployment rate:

The disparaties are more marked in the provinces (though StatsNZ reports Tasman/ Nelson/Marlborough/ West Coast as one region at 3.5% whereas MSD benefit data is localised).

The next depicts the numbers unemployed versus the numbers on Jobseeker by ethnicity.

Again it is to be expected that there will be some disparity given that Stats NZ data is a survey extrapolation whereas MSD data is actual receipt. 

For Stats NZ purposes, the 'unemployed' are offcially: "All people in the working-age population who, during the reference week, were without a paid job, available for work, and had either actively sought work in the past four weeks ending with the reference week, or had a new job to start within the next four weeks."

Based on that definition, many Maori  recipients of the Jobseeker benefit are not actually seeking jobs. Perhaps because they have a 'health condition or disability' as do 35 percent of those receiving JS.

Or, they have a part-time job and also receive JS.

I don't think the large gap necessarily shows anything fraudulent. But it does highlight a different employment pattern for Maori. For instance I expect there may be quite a number of Maori sole parents with older children, doing part-time work and being topped up by the Jobseeker benefit.

They are in the blue column but not the orange.

Monday, November 02, 2020

New Police Minister: Does she still want to reverse the burden of proof?

 Poto Williams has been appointed Minister for Police. 

I recall being rather alarmed about her views just three years ago:

Labour MP Poto Williams is calling for rape investigations to reverse the "innocent until proven guilty" legal methodology.

Labour's sexual violence spokesperson, Mrs Williams has called for radical reform of the sexual justice system which would see rape accusers believed by police as a starting point.

This would place the burden of proof on the accused - directly contradicting the philosophy of "innocent until proven guilty".

It's conceivable the new Minister for Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence, Green MP Marama Davidson could throw her weight behind this.

Am I wrong to be worried that we are in for some scary stuff?

And how come Greg O'Connor has never gotten anywhere near a police ministerial role with his decades of experience?

Too conservative. By a long shot.

The number of babies removed halves in two years

 Data from Oranga Tamariki show that in the year to June 2020, 151 babies  - aged up to three months old - were removed by the state due to concerns about their care and safety. (While officially under state care babies are most commonly removed to the care of a family member).

In 2018 the number was 299. A halving.

But the number of babies 'referred for assessment or investigation' dropped only slightly from 1,899 in 2018 to 1,848 in 2020.

A number of inferences can be taken.

Based on the investigation level being relatively stable, a large drop in removals must mean a change in policy/ threshold. That could indicate a lack of resources, eg available caregivers, or a deliberate attempt to lower the number due to political pressure.

I am eternally suspicious of sudden large changes in numbers in any data BUT to be fair OT has signalled a cultural change in behaviours.

I just hope like hell that this change in procedure - for whatever reason - will mean better outcomes for the babies. OT has claimed it as a success. Surely it's a little too soon to tell.

(Note also that the brief containing this data makes no mention of ethnicity. Also a departure from usual practice.)