Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Don't be too 'asty - update

On Monday I wondered about the sense of the government tightening up on migration inflows at a time when businesses appeared to be finding it hard to get the people they need to keep growing.

Since then, while researching something else, I've discovered that there's even more evidence saying that the government ought to go carefully. It's the latest ANZ jobs ads count. As the chart below shows, the unemployment rate has been steadily falling while job ads have been steadily rising: you couldn't find a clearer illustration of how short businesses are of staff, and of the need for more people from overseas to keep the cycle going.

And you don't have to take my bleeding-heart-liberal instinctively-pro-free-movement-of-people word for it. Here's the ANZ's own take:
With firms in a mood to expand, skill shortages, rather than demand, are set to become the key brake on activity.
Those damn Chinese, keeping our economy going for us. Honestly.

I've also sat through today's Parliamentary Question Time. Sometimes it's moronic: patsy questions from government backbench MPs to their own side, or, even more egregiously, as we had today, patsy questions from one backbench opposition MP to another. Sometimes it's cynically oppositional: you know full well that the Opposition MP asking the question would, if in office, have done exactly what he is criticising the government for doing.

Today hit new lows, with ugly questions about immigrants supposedly taking jobs from our own youngsters. Never mind that the questions are hopelessly adrift of the true state of the labour market, where (as the ANZ data show) any sentient carbon based life form can get a job if it wants. But it's also ratcheted the immigration debate another moral notch lower. I didn't think, when I first came to New Zealand, that I'd ever see its elected representatives channelling Farage, Le Pen, or Trump.

In a race to the bottom, we've got some good runners.

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