Te Whanganui a Tara – A new publication by the New Zealand Productivity Commission shows New Zealanders work longer hours, 34.2 hours per week, compared with 31.9 hours per week in other OECD countries.
And, New Zealanders produce less: $68 of output per hour, compared with $85 of output per hour in other OECD countries.
Commission chair Ganesh Nana says New Zealanders are working harder rather than smarter, this makes improving living standards even more difficult.
“Poor productivity results in higher prices for everyday items which can impose a larger burden on those with low incomes.
“When productivity growth is lower, wage growth tends to be lower too, meaning some families struggle to make ends meet. The result is they work longer hours and have less time to spend with family and in the community.
“Even though New Zealanders are producing seven times more than 150 years ago, this is significantly less than other countries.”
Looking back in history, the numbers haven’t always been so bleak. New Zealand was in fact one of the most productive economies in the world alongside Australia, the UK and the US at the end of the 19th century.
But over time Aotearoa has been overtaken and outperformed and has now fallen to a below average position.
No initiatives have had the cut-through to lift New Zealand’s productivity. Working more hours and putting more people into work continues to be the main way that the economy has grown.
Innovation is the key to unlocking New Zealand’s productivity. There are only so many hours in the day that people can work, so creating new technology and adopting new and better ways of working is critical to achieving effective change, Dr Nana says.