提高最低工资标准将使更多的新西兰人失去工作的权利

  国家党提高最低工资的决定将导致更多的企业倒闭和更高的失业率。

  在政府应当给企业发展让路的时候,国家党却把提高群众收入的包袱甩给了企业,给企业的发展制造障碍。

  中小企业占了新西兰企业总数的 97%,并贡献率了40%的国内生产总值。当前大部分中小企业生存艰难, 他们与供应商的议价能力微乎其微, 也没有能力应对持续上涨的运营成本。

  新西兰服务业者协会去年的一项调查显示, 48%的服务业业主和营业者付给自己的工资低于最低工资标准。如果雇主都支付不起自己最低工资,又怎能寄希望于他们付给雇员更高的工资呢?

  最低工资的上调将直接影响那些低收入群体,由于一些员工的边际贡献低于最低工资,在此情况下, 企业为了维持收益往往会减少雇佣人员。

  我们当然希望看到大众有更高的收入,但是,不设法提高效率而是武断地使用法规来提高最低工资只会导致更高的失业率。

 

青年失业率创三十多年来新高

 

  新西兰统计局数据显示去年第四季度青年失业率为30.9%, 这是三十多年以来青年失业率的最高记录。

  九十年代末,青年最低工资标准是成人的60%,青年失业率比20到24岁的成年人高出近六个百分点。在2012年12月, 青年失业率比成人失业率高出了百分之十八点五。

  从2000到2008年,劳动党将青年最低工资标准逐步提高到了成年人的最低工资标准。直接导致了15到19岁的年轻人失业比例大幅增加。

  还有其他原因可以解释在2012年12月,四万一千五百个15到19岁的青年人找不到工作的严峻现实吗?

  我们不能归咎于海外市场疲软,初级产品价格在持续走高,我们的贸易额也并未下降。

  我们也不能归咎于高利率, 它们正处在50年来最低水平。

  我们不能归咎于缺乏政府支出刺激。政府开支一直占国内生产总值的33-35%, 而十年前只有29-30%。

  我们不能责怪金融危机。财政部预测,今年将保持连续第三年的经济正增长。

  我们应该归认识这到这是因为我们缺乏一个基础识字和算术的标准,这也成为近百分之二十中学毕业生的巨大障碍。与这个群体生产力不像符的高工资标准使他们失业无疑。

  合作办学将以提供更多选择的方式帮助那些不能完成学业的学生。 但是颠覆现行教育系统还有待时日。

  因为缺乏技术所以生产效率低下,进而收入水平低下,但是这并不能解释在没有最低工资标准的失业。放眼世界, 非技术工人比比皆是。

  政府的法律法规不适当地提高非工资劳动成本并加重对雇主的用工风险,这也可以解释为什么青年和成人的失业率都高的离谱。

  当我还是一个年轻的求职者时,我可以对一个潜在的雇主说“我只需要一个证明我自己的机会。 我可以无偿为您工作一个月然后您再决定是否让我留任。”

  今天各种各有繁琐的程序和规则使雇主不再愿意给年轻人一个机会。

  我相信国内大部分失业人群都会认为雇主都会利用弱势的廉价劳动力。一部分雇主会这样做,但大部分不会。

  因为少数的无良雇主而给大多数的雇主设立各种繁琐的程序和规则,这将付出极大的社会代价。

  最低工资标准否定了新西兰人的基本权利-在符合法律的情况下自由地为雇员设定合适他们的工资的权利。

  我年轻的时候雇主有这样的权利,现在的雇主没有。

  取消最低工资标准对降低青年失业率尤为重要,至少应该取消15到19岁年龄段的最低工资标准。另外,我们可以减少最低工资水平和适用范围。 行动党提出的三个月试用期的建议可以适当延长。

  只有这样,我们才能快速地扫清四万一千五百个青年人的就业障碍。

 

-译文

 

Youth Unemployment highest in more than 30 years

Statistics New Zealand put youth unemployment at 30.9 per cent for the December quarter - that’s the highest rate on record for more than 30 years. 

In the late 1990s, when the youth minimum wage was 60 per cent of the adult rate, the youth unemployment rate was about six percentage points higher than that for 20-24 year-olds.  In December 2012, the difference between the adult and youth unemployment rate was three times higher at 18.5 percentage points. 

Labour progressively lifted the youth minimum wage up to the adult minimum wage between 2000 and 2008.  A massive increase in the proportion of 15-19 year olds seeking work fruitlessly is the result. 

What other explanations might there be for the stark fact that in December 2012, 41,500 New Zealanders aged 15-19 wanted a job, but couldn’t find one?

We can’t blame weakness in overseas markets.  Prices for primary products are holding up and our terms of trade remain high.

We can’t blame high interest rates. They are at 50-year lows.

We can’t blame lack of stimulus from government spending.  Government spending has been running at 33-35 per cent of GDP, up from 29-30 per cent of GDP a decade ago.

We can’t blame recession. Treasury is forecasting that this year will be the 3rd successive year of positive economic growth.

We can blame a lack of a basic standard of literacy and numeracy, an enormous handicap for nearly 20 per cent of school-leavers.  A high minimum wage relative to the productivity of this group is almost guaranteed to ensure their unemployment.

Partnership Schools will help by giving more choice to those not achieving at school. But it will take time to turn the education system around. 

Lack of skill can explain low productivity and thereby low wage rates, but it can’t explain joblessness in the absence of a minimum wage. Unskilled workers abound, worldwide.

Government laws and regulations that unduly raise non-wage labour costs and aggravate employment risks for employers could also help explain the unacceptably high rate of youth unemployment, and unemployment in general.

When I was a young jobseeker, I was able to say to a potential boss “just give me a chance to prove myself.  I will work without pay for a month and after that you decide if you want to keep me on.”

Today there is such a maze of red tape with the rules around personal grievance and unjustified dismissal that many a potential employer might hesitate to give a young person that chance.

I believe that we owe much of our unemployment in this country to the idea that employers generally are out to exploit vulnerable workers.  A failing few may be, but the vast majority are not.

It is very costly for society to tie all employers up in red tape because of an unscrupulous few.

Why is there not more public outrage at the youth unemployment rate today?

One argument is that a higher minimum wage boosts household income.  Witness last week’s call for a ‘living wage’ far above the adult minimum wage, and thereby even further out of kilter with the productivity of those with the least skills and work experience.

However, the earnings of one member of a household are not a good measure of household income. In particular, most 15-19 year olds would not be the major income earners in their households and how does having 41,500 young people unemployed boost household income?

Those concerned to raise household income on a sustainable basis need to focus on reducing barriers to employment and skill attainment.

At base, the minimum wage denies New Zealanders a fundamental freedom - the right to offer their own labour at a price they see fit, subject to general laws. 

I had that right as a young man, today’s youth do not.

If we are serious about youth unemployment we could eliminate the minimum wage, at least for 15-19 year olds. Alternatively, we could reduce its level and/or further expand the range of exceptions.  ACT’s successful three month trial employment period could be extended.

By such means we could move quickly to ease the path to achieving the dignity of work for 41,500 young New Zealanders.

- Published in the NBR, March 8 2013

Why ACT Is Different

Imagine what might happen if there was a centre-left coalition.  

They believe we can just pass a law saying all wages have to be paid above a certain amount.  Anyone who was working below that amount would get a pay rise.

They believe we can attain real economic growth by simply printing more money.
Everyone could then buy a new house, car and what not.

They believe the Government can spend millions of dollars on all sorts of wonderful programs, without affecting the private sector negatively, as hey, it’s not like taxes come from it.

Unfortunately that is all fantasy.

But according to other political parties, it seems that there is no reason why you cannot legislate your way to prosperity.   

ACT thinks differently.

We understand that wages are determined by supply and demand.

We understand that minimum wages price some workers - usually the young and inexperienced - out of the market.  The minimum wage diminishes their opportunity for a head start.

We understand that printing money results in inflation - an invisible tax on savings, which is the key to capital formation.  

Not only will printing money fail to stimulate economic growth in the long run, it may also cause recessions and the misallocation of resources in our economy due to the distorted price signals.

We understand that welfare programs, implemented with the best of intentions, can have detrimental outcomes: increased dependence on handouts, high marginal tax rates which remove the incentive to work and the occasional abuse of taxpayers’ dollars.

Furthermore, with the recent crisis in Greece, we understand what happens when the Government goes bankrupt.

Governments cannot spend so carelessly. That’s why ACT advocates for smaller government that operates within a disciplined budget and low taxes, which will not crowd out the private sector and prohibit the creation of wealth.     

If we look at other issues such as the "manufacturing crisis”- other parties were quick to blame the current Government and their so called "hands off" approach - as if the Government has not dug its hands into our economy deep enough.

It appears that not only do they lack understanding in sound economic theory, but some economic facts too.

Out of its 33 members, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) rated New Zealand the second most restrictive in terms of Foreign Direct Investment regulations.

Foreign Direct Investment plays a crucial role in our modern economy.  Not only does it contribute to job creation, real income growth and raising our standard of living, but also many other positive externalities such as technology and skilled-labour training.

This is why ACT wants to remove unnecessary regulation and red tape that does nothing except make it harder to do business.

I do not wish to demonise other political parties, because as I mentioned before they do have the good intentions.  Unfortunately, as they say, the road to hell is also paved with them.

One of the main insights of economics is that it demonstrates to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.

I believe only ACT's policies, founded on sound economic principals, understands this.

Speech by Peter Jiang to 2013 ACT Annual Conference, The Farm, Kaukapakapa, Saturday, February 23 2013.
 

Increase In Minimum Wage Will Deny More New Zealanders The Dignity Of Work

National’s decision to increase the minimum wage will see more business failures and more jobs lost, ACT Leader John Banks said today.   

“At a time when National should be getting out of the way of business, it’s putting greater barriers in place,” Mr Banks said.

“Small businesses make up 97% of all enterprise within New Zealand and account for 40% of our GDP.  Most are struggling as they have little to no bargaining power with suppliers and do not have the capacity to absorb on-going cost increases.     

“A member survey by Hospitality New Zealand last year found that 48% of hospitality owner/operators paid themselves less than the minimum wage.  

“If employers can’t afford to pay themselves the minimum wage, how can they be expected to pay their employees even more?

“The minimum wage increase will impact most on those who can least afford it - low-skilled workers. It will price them out of the market, consigning them to a benefit.  

“We have seen this with the abolition of the youth minimum wage:  Statistics New Zealand released its December quarterly report which put the youth unemployment rate at 30.9 per cent - the highest rate for at least 30 years.

“Of course we would all like to see employees earn higher wages.  But arbitrarily raising the minimum wage via regulation rather than through an increase in productivity will only result in job losses,” Mr Banks said.

ENDS