1 in 4 Kiwis worried about losing their jobs
With unemployment at a 13-year high, as Christmas approaches more job losses have struck – this time, right underneath the Beehive at Parliament's book store.
It is a sad symbol of the faltering economy that Bennetts Bookshop in the Parliamentary precinct is closing down tomorrow. Its two workers will have to find new jobs.
But a 3 News-Reid Research poll shows the fear of job loss is widespread in New Zealand.
When asked, "Given the state of the economy and rising unemployment, are you concerned about losing your job?"Around 25 percent of people, that’s one in four, said yes. Seventeen percent were already out of work, retired or at home, while 57 percent said no – they felt their job was safe.
Politicians from both sides are united on what the problem is.
“Well the big focus for the Government in 2013 is to try and get the jobless rate down,” says Prime Minister John Key.
It’s a view shared by his opponent, Labour leader David Shearer.
“Oh, this is the issue for next year,” he says.
In Budget 2011, the Government predicted 170,000 jobs over four years. But that hasn't happened. Instead, there are ominous signs – like tomorrow when Dunedin's Hillside KiwiRail workshop will close its doors as well, with 90 jobs gone.
Rail & Maritime Transport Union, along with others will mark the closure with a nationwide two minutes’ silence.
And the economic indicators out this week aren't that flash – unemployment is at 7.3 percent, 300,000 people are either unemployed or wanting more hours.
Mr Shearer says the Government’s current strategy clearly isn’t working.
“It’s all about a Government being hands-on rather than hands-off. This Government is hands-off, saying, ‘leave it to the market it will sort it out’.”
And Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says the public are worried.
“New Zealanders are right to be concerned about whether this Government is doing enough to bring us out of the recession.”
But Mr Key is optimistic about the situation improving in the near future.
“I'm confident with the Christchurch rebuild and property market starting to breathe life back into Auckland that it will be a better year for us next year.”
Jobs, and job security, are simply crucial to ordinary New Zealanders. Unemployment will be the critical political issue next year. And despite all the ‘Gangnam Style’ populism, this issue has the potential to really hurt the Government's popularity.