The Tom Column - A growing economy delivering for New Zealand households
A growing economy supports more jobs and higher wages. It provides opportunities for families. And it pays for the public services New Zealanders rely on.
The economy remains front and centre of the Government’s busy work programme, and it is delivering results, with our country in good shape.
Businesses are confident and investing, exports are up, tourism and construction are booming, and interest rates are down. The outlook for economic growth remains solid with predicted growth of 3 per cent on average through to 2020.
Growth matters because it creates more jobs and higher incomes for New Zealanders. That is exactly what our economic programme is doing.
An extra 100,000 jobs have been created in the last year. The unemployment rate is down to 5.1 per cent and falling across the country. Our employment rate – the proportion of all people 16 or older in work – is now the second highest in the OECD group of developed countries. This is a significant achievement.
Kiwi families have more spending power. The average annual wage has increased 25 per cent to $58,000 since 2008 – more than twice the rate of inflation. It is expected to reach almost $63,000 by 2020.
A combination of rising wages, reduced taxes on income and savings, and low inflation has seen take-home pay increasing 2.2 per cent a year, four times faster than under the previous government.
The latest income and inequality data published by the Ministry of Social Development confirms this trend of incomes growing solidly in recent years, with slightly higher gains for low-income households. It also finds there is no evidence of increasing poverty, or children in material hardship.
And that is what a growing economy is delivering for New Zealanders. At the same time as we’ve increased spending on core public services – health and education spending are today at record levels – we’ve increased support for the most-vulnerable New Zealanders. We’ve also balanced the Government’s books, and we’re on track to pay down debt.
National will continue to focus on building a stronger, more prosperous New Zealand, with more jobs and higher incomes, and on helping families get ahead.