Manawatu Standard

M¯aori largely insulated from job losses caused by Covid-19

- Catherine Harris

A new report on unemployme­nt shows that Ma¯ ori have not done as badly as might have been expected during the pandemic.

In fact, Ma¯ ori had the smallest increase in unemployme­nt compared to other groups, ANZ’S chief economist Sharon Zollner said.

Ma¯ori employment has typically been more vulnerable in previous recessions in New Zealand but 2020 was different. ‘‘It just so happens that industries where Ma¯ ori are currently more likely to be employed have been the ones that have experience­d some of the most robust recoveries.’’

The traditiona­l gap between Ma¯ ori and general unemployme­nt had a number of reasons, but two in particular leapt out, ANZ said. The Ma¯ ori population was much younger than the overall population, and younger people tended to have much worse unemployme­nt outcomes than average.

‘‘In addition, Ma¯ ori have historical­ly been more likely to be employed in industries that are particular­ly exposed to the economic cycle, such as constructi­on and manufactur­ing,’’ Zollner said.

The difference was particular­ly large during the 1980s and 90s, and while unemployme­nt have improved both generally and for Ma¯ ori, the gap had never quite been erased. Even in 2019, Ma¯ ori employees earned a median income of $925 a week, compared to $1000 a week for the country as a whole.

But the Covid downturn had been ‘‘nothing like’’ other recessions. Constructi­on and manufactur­ing recovered well, as did the retail sector, all key job sectors for Ma¯ ori.’’

The top five industries Ma¯ ori were employed in were retail trade and accommodat­ion (14 per cent), manufactur­ing (13.8 per cent), constructi­on (10.3 per cent). health (10.2 per cent) and education and training (9.9 per cent).

So while the overall unemployme­nt rate was still higher than it was in 2019 at 4.7 per cent, Ma¯ ori unemployme­nt was already back down to its pre-covid levels – albeit still high at 8.4 per cent, ANZ said.

Kiwibank economist Mary Jo Vergara said the unemployme­nt rate for Ma¯ori might not have risen steeply, but the fact that it remained relatively unchanged to pre-pandemic levels was a concern.

The blow to tourism had disproport­ionately affected Ma¯ori women with 4000 fewer Ma¯ori women employed in tourism industries in the June 2020 quarter compared to the year before.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand