Wage increases have been below 2% for the past four years, and recently slowed back to below 1.5%. Economic growth has generally been above that figure, although lately that growth has come largely from population increases, which means per person growth is much lower.
There is no doubt that poverty is a problem, but whose job is it to ensure people have enough – the government or employers? In the face of growing international competition and mechanisation, there are limits to what employers can do.
This isn’t a new problem. The last Labour Government acknowledged that paid work was increasingly not enough to live on when it created Working for Families. Nor is it a problem only faced in New Zealand – it is happening around the world.
Guy Standing is a British professor and economist and founder of BIEN (Basic Income Earth Network), which campaigns for an Unconditional Basic Income (UBI). He was in New Zealand recently for the Labour Party’s Future of Work conference.