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In a shit week for work, New Zealand employment confidence has fallen to a three year low, and the gender pay gap has ballooned to 11.8%.
The most recent McDermott Miller Employment Confidence Index indicates that workers are becoming increasingly concerned about the state of the labour market (read: getting jobs and getting pay rises).
According to Westpac Senior economist Satish Ranchod, “the number of workers expecting a pay increase over the coming year has fallen to its lowest level since 2004”.
Statistics NZ claim that workers in NZ are concerned about their employment prospects and pointed out that job opportunities and wage increases in the coming year may be scarce, particularly for young people.
According to the index, young workers (18–29) were among the most concerned, along with those who earned less than $30,000 annually.
Students told Salient that the outlook after university was “unnerving” and “worrying”, but others saw opportunity to grow.
“It certainly makes you reconsider if you should stay in NZ after graduating, or if you should look overseas for a better chance of employment,” said Auckland University student Jared Green.
Victoria student Jack Dingle preferred to accept it as a challenge—“[the current situation] makes me even more determined to bring more to the table”.
Gender gap increase
In addition to diminishing employment prospects, the gender wage gap has also grown over the last year, making it the largest difference in pay between men and women in New Zealand since 2008.
According to Statistics New Zealand’s latest income survey, “The gender pay gap has grown to 11.8%, up from 9.9% in 2014”.
For men, the average hourly earnings rose by 4.6% to $24.07, while women’s hourly earnings rose by only 2.4% to $21.23.
Minister for Women Louise Upston stated publicly that “any gender pay gap is unacceptable” and claimed the increase proved “we still have work to do to ensure women are paid fairly for their skills”.
Green Party spokesperson for social development Jan Logie blamed the pay gap on “National’s hands-off approach to gender equality”, which meant that “women are literally paying the price for National’s do-nothing approach”.
When it came to the wage gap, some students said that they had “not seen or experienced it”, or admitted that they couldn’t “say for sure if there is a real difference”.
Others, however, felt very strongly that “men still get paid more in general” and said that the difference in pay was “due to common misconceptions or unfair stigma”.
According to the most recent projections from the Ministry of Education, men graduating in 2011 will pay off their loans in an average of 6.7 years’ time, whereas women will, on average, take a further six months.