16 Sep 2016

Strong GDP makes little difference to average earners - English

9:25 am on 16 September 2016

The latest data showing the economy is growing strongly will not make much difference to average wage earners whose own growth is sluggish, says Finance Minister Bill English.

Bill English 24 May 2016

Finance Minister Bill English. Photo: RNZ/Elliott Childs

The economy is growing at 3.6 percent a year, but economists and the Opposition are questioning the quality of it, when growth per head is less than one percent.

Mr English said that meant someone on the average wage of $58,000 had been getting modest wage increases.

But he said rising house prices were having the biggest impact on people on low and middle incomes.

"That's why we are focussed so strongly on supporting the Auckland Council to get their Unitary Plan through and the Unitary Plan is a big step in the right direction, it indicates the most progress actually for about 20 or 30 years on this issue."

Labour's finance spokesperson Grant Robertson said the economic growth made no difference to people facing higher housing costs and stagnant wages.

He said the government should put more focus on training young unemployed people, rather than bringing in more low-skilled migrants.

Bringing in more migrants was depressing the economy, rather than boosting it, said Mr Robertson.

"What I want to see us do is train New Zealanders to be able to take on those jobs. We've got 70,000 young New Zealanders not in employment, not in education, not in training. that's where our focus should be."

Mr Robertson said the government needed to be more active in promoting jobs and training young people.

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