Statistics damn statistics

Yesterday we found out the National Party’s welfare reform agenda, Future Focus, is getting results. Prior to Future Focus there was no work expectation on sole parents until their youngest child was 18 years old.

“More than 10,600 sole parents on the DPB with children over six years old are now earning more than $100 a week”

What the government didn’t mention though is there is only 0.2% more people on the DPB earning extra income compared to 2008.

Patterns of work for sole parents clearly follow the job market and complementary initiatives such as Working for Families.

The Government also noted that “more than 171,000 benefits have been cancelled because people found work”
What they didn’t mention was the number of unemployed people has increased and the percentage of people receiving income support and working part time has decreased by over 4% since 2006.

And while there certainly are fewer people accessing income support we also know unemployment is at the highest level in ten years.

I know the figures I’ve chosen are equally open to critique but that’s my point really. When it comes to income support and employment I believe we need to look at trends, comparisons and qualitative outcomes and not just arbitrary isolated measures that may make a good soundbite but really tell us nothing.

What I’m hearing all around the country is that people are struggling to get work, and many more people are struggling to pay for the basics; roof, warmth and food, and increasingly it seems there is a section of our population opting out of the formal economy altogether.

If this is getting results, I have to ask what the goal was.

8 thoughts on “Statistics damn statistics

  1. the current govt will never show you the true and whole picture of what all statistics are about…they will just pick and manipulate what they want then mislead the public…

    watch and listen to people around us, we/you know what the reality is like…
    I’ve never seen so many shameless and delusional National MPs who have nerves to talk about what a great job they have done to “improve” this country, in total denial of what the real figures told them.

    They are good at convenient comparisons; for example when it comes to the power bill, they will tell kiwis our energy price is still cheaper than what people pay in one of those most expensive OECD countries …
    but when it comes to wages, they will tell you how imcompetative our wages are comparing to China even India…
    What more can i say about this govt?

  2. Oh come on. The point is that unlike a few countries in the Eurozone one could name, New Zealand still works. We’re surviving the GFC. Ok, its tough, and some people are clearly having a very hard time of it, but we’re still here.

    It could all be so much worse.

  3. Jan asks “If this is getting results, I have to ask what the goal was.”

    Perhaps to ride out the global financial crisis better than most, like Finland, Sweden, USA, UK, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Iceland, France Italy, Greece etc – who all have much worse unemployment than us (i.e. Spain and Greece 26%).

    In fact our unemployment is nearly half that of the Euro zone (12%).

    Despite the fact that not a single one of these countries have the huge disadvantage of being a tiny market, in the most isolated country on the planet from developed markets.

  4. Crime and I’m also hearing increasing stories of a black market economy. People just opting out of mainstream society all together.

  5. So what’s happening to all those people who aren’t working and don’t have any government or family assistance at all? My first guess would be that they’re committing crimes to survive… But then we’re told that the crime rate for such crimes is reducing, while at the same time the incarceration rate is increasing.

    Meanwhile the National party also claims the number of frontline Police has increased, but they ignore the high attrition rate and the fact that no new recruits were taken in recently. Could it be that our crime rates aren’t decreasing, but instead we have less Police on the beat and therefore less crimes being recorded?

    What we really need is a better system of reporting on statistics, so that politicians or the media cannot misrepresent them.

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