So often we hear that, even though the unemployment rate is falling in the US, employment is low. It is the low level of employment, and the lack of integration in the community that entails, that is causing so much anger over there. The lack of opportunity illustrated through the low employment rate is one of the key pieces of information pulled out to suggest something must be done.
Often people in New Zealand talk as if whatever is happening in the US is happening here, therefore something must be done. However, lets be a bit more careful – especially as in the case of the employment rate that is untrue.
Yes, the story is more complicated (Working for families increased the number of second earners in the labour market, a factor that will in of itself have pushed up the participation and employment rates). But if anything that suggests we need to be a lot more careful applying “lessons” from the US situation to New Zealand. We are not the United States – a point we’ve noted when looking at median income comparisons in the past