Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Gender pay gap still widening

Just a quick bit on this, no time for anything meatier from me tonight sorry. This is from a media statement from Sue Moroney (Labour) today:
“Labour's comprehensive plan to reduce the gap saw it close to 11.94% in March 2009, but since National closed down the Pay and Employment Equity Unit in June 2009, the pay gap has opened to 12.81% in just one year,” Sue Moroney said.
And here's a bit from the Greens' release:
“In June the Minister of Women’s Affairs tried to claim that the gender pay gap had narrowed since her Government took office. These numbers clearly show that the gap is as wide as ever,” Green Party Women’s Affairs Spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said.
The Quarterly Employment Survey, released today by Statistics New Zealand, includes measures of the average hourly wages of men and women. Comparing the two shows that women earn on average 12.81 percent less than men, up half a percent since March. 
October will be crunch time for the Minister, Pansy Wong, as that's when the NZ Income Survey comes out.  And that's the source she used back in March to try to show that the gender pay gap had lessened under National.  As I wrote at the time:
Fair enough. Even if the period she is crowing about was almost half under the previous Government, and not her National party, and even if by the end of the June 2009 quarter any new policies National had put in place on pay equity would not have had much effect. Oh but wait they didn't put any new policies on pay equity into effect, they just abolished efforts the last Government had made. Nevermind all that.

So Wong is safe, for now, with her statement, because she has compared apples with apples, even if it is not an apple her Government grew. It shall be interesting to see in October whether the NZ Income Survey ending June 2010 backs her up.
All the indicators to date are for a bigger gap in October.  While I don't really want a bigger gap, because what it means is that women are being paid even less than they were, in comparison to men, I would like to see this Minister held to account for her inaction.   And exposing her on the basis of statistics she used to mislead back in March sounds like an appropriate first step. 


Psycho Milt said...

“Labour's comprehensive plan to reduce the gap saw it close to 11.94% in March 2009, but since National closed down the Pay and Employment Equity Unit in June 2009, the pay gap has opened to 12.81% in just one year,” Sue Moroney said.

This one's right up there with politicians' perennial claims that crime has gone up since their govt left office because the new guys are soft on crime. No doubt Moroney considers the change of govt to be responsible for increased sunspot activity as well.

I expect an increase in this figure will be embarrassing for National, in the same way the increase in the pay gap with Australia was. But if Moroney wants to make political capital out of it, she needs to demonstrate exactly how Labour supposedly brought the figure down simply by paying a committee to talk about it.

Carol said...

Well, I certainly have been wondering what the actual causes/factors are that have caused women's average wages to drop further behind.

Rise in unemployment falling more heavily on women?

Higher pay rises in occupations done more by men?

Rise in promotions for men in higher paid jobs?

Drop in the number of fulltime jobs available, with women taking a higher proportion of part time jobs?

What evidence is available to throw some light on this?

Anonymous said...

I'm on the left (vote Greens) and would never vote National or Act in a million years, but I have real problems with Sue Moroney bleating on about the pay gap and what should be done about it. Labour had 9 years in power and while the gap may have been decreased a bit during that time it was never eliminated. Labour could have / should have done more - but they were too worried about upseting business and government departments at the time.
A question for Sue Moroney: Once the political cycle changes and Labour gets in, what practical steps are you (and by "you" I mean both you and the Labour government) actually going to do. Setting up more pay equity reviews doesn't achieve anything - it just tells us what we already know, that women get paid less then men.
Plus another question for Sue Moroney, what did she do when she was in government to reduce the pay gap.

Carol said...

In terms of what to do, I read this article this morning:


It reminded me some feminists in the past have asked for a change to the whole work system: a change that would be fairer to all, and enable parenting & childcare as well as spending time in paid work. But what we have got is just a little bit of re-jigging of the existing system.

While the author of the above linked article, Nina Power, acknowledges it's difficult times to think about major changes to the whole system, maybe we do need to start looking for different kinds of solutions.

Power says:
Thinking of a world with less but better work, or even no work at all (as we currently understand it), particularly in the midst of an economic crisis, is impractical, of course. Yet thinking about alternatives to the current system, however unfathomable, may help us to break with much that is wrong about our everyday existence.

The solutions that have been tried in the last few decades don't seem to have shifted the gap much from around 80%.

And, really, we have a ludicrous system at the moment, where some people earn way more than they need, and many don't earn enough; some people work crazy long hours for varying amounts of money, and others can't get enough work.

Carol said...

So the unemployment stats for the last quarter are out:


The unemployment rate has risen by 0.8%. The stats apparently also show that there has been a bigger rise in unemployed males than females, which has something to do with the "movements young younger males."

So, am I right in concluding, while the umemployment rate is rising, older and/or higher paid males have tended to have an income rise?.... seeing as the gap between the average male and female wages has grown wider....

ie, in this current economic situation changes are having the most negative impact on younger males, older and better off males, however, are benefitting out of it, and women generally are tending to have their wages depressed.

Or does it mean many women are disappearing from the unemployment stats, with less women in the work force and less women registering as unemployed and actively seeking work?