This chart from a recent New Zealand Institute publication tells a familiar story.
We think of countries like France and the United States as having shocking rates of youth unemployment (see my Friday Graph of 15 July for the United States). And indeed they do. In those countries youth unemployed as a percent of total unemployed is around 25%. This is a far higher rate than in earlier decades when labour markets were less regulated.
But the chart shows that it is New Zealand that stands out with youth unemployment being 45% of total unemployment, the worst outcome in the OECD.
Why are our political parties not talking about this appalling state of affairs? One reason is that many of them are complicit in bringing it about. The abolition of the youth minimum wage, sponsored by the Greens and Labour, is clearly a major contributing factor to the surge in youth unemployment. National in office has declined to reintroduce youth wages. The New Zealand Institute in its report also ducked the issue.
This conspiracy of silence on the subject is an indictment of New Zealand’s seeming inability to face up to grim social realities.