If National is going to keep shining up shit and calling it gold, then I am going to keep exposing it as shit.

National’s latest foray into creatively interpreting statistics to make itself look good is about employment. As the chart below illustrates, the unemployment rate is at its highest level in about the last ten years, and normally we would say this means we aren't doing much good in managing the economy so that people have jobs.


“Not so fast!” thunders John Key.

Both in question time and the budget debate last week, he trumpeted National’s incredible jobs achievement:

“… New Zealand now has more jobs that it has ever had in the history of this country. I do not call that failure.” Taddah!

Um, John, more people have jobs now because New Zealand has more people now. It has very little to do with you. Unless, of course, you are about to start taking credit for breeding...


As the chart shows, the number of people in work rises pretty much every quarter, unless there is a large-scale problem like a Global Financial Crisis. More people, more jobs.

The unemployment rate is a much better indicator of government economic management than is the raw number of jobs around.

Then again, what if we did adopt John Key’s “more jobs than ever before” standard for judging government economic success? How would the last two governments perform on that score?

  • Labour achieved the “more jobs than ever before” standard in 30 of its 36 quarters in office, earning an 83% A.
  • National has so far achieved the standard in only 4 of its 13 quarters in office, for a 31% F.

Still want to stick with the stupid statistic? Desperation is a stinky cologne, John.


Comments (9)

by Andrew Geddis on May 28, 2012
Andrew Geddis

Labour achieved the “more jobs than ever before” standard in 30 of its 36 quarters in office, earning an 83% A.

Not at this University. That's a solid A-.

by Rob Salmond on May 28, 2012
Rob Salmond

@Andrew: True - I was going by the scales of those capital city softies up at Vic. At my University, 83 is only a bare B, but then again we hand out 60 if you can write your name at the top of the page, so I don't know how you manage a 31 in this system.

by Graeme Edgeler on May 28, 2012
Graeme Edgeler

True - I was going by the scales of those capital city softies up at Vic.

At VUW, it differs between different departments.

by Dan Knox on May 29, 2012
Dan Knox

There is no F grade at Vic 31% is an E. The coincidence between the falling unemployment rate and Labour's term in office is one of the best things I have seen on a chart. While economic conditions must account for some of it I can't help but think they made hay while the sun shone, while John and Bill don't have a recipie for lemondade... sorry that is enough folksey wisdom.

by Matthew Percival on May 29, 2012
Matthew Percival

C'mon Rob name me a political party that doesn't spin the truth.

If you're going to write every time a half truth comes out of the beehive you are going to be spending a lot of time on pundit.co.nz!

by alexb on May 29, 2012

@Matthew - And Salmond doing more writing on Pundit is a bad thing? More fact checking and statistical analysis is exactly what our media needs, not pathetic repeating of claims made by politicians. I hope he abandones poll of polls to focus exclusively on this, and start branching out to investigating the policy claims of other parties too. 

by Ross on May 30, 2012

Interesting analysis, Rob.

However, I did cringe when I saw the second graph begin at 1.5 million! Shouldn't it be zero? I accept that you were making a point :)


by Matthew Percival on May 30, 2012
Matthew Percival

@alexb I think you have missed my point.

There is nothing factually incorrect about what the National Party are saying. There are more jobs than ever and the economy has grown in x out of the last x quarters. The issue Rob has raised is the National Party selectively using these statistics in isolation to make it sound like they are doing a better job than they are.

My response is that all political parties do it and if Rob is going to blow the whistle every time a political party does it he will be writing many times a day.

P.S Salmond doing more writing on Pundit is not a bad thing to answer your question in a sentence.

by alexb on May 30, 2012

@ Matthew - Fair point, they are technically true. However, we do have a serious problem in the NZ media (could be the entire world TBH) with journalists who are too lazy to research claims made by politicians, and as such politicians can get away with telling half-truths. Salmond's recent posts are an excellent example of proper research and analysis, as well as displaying a common sense approach to political rhetoric. 

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