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  • Robert MacCulloch

NZ's Productivity Debacle

Conversations about weaknesses in the NZ economy frequently return to one word: productivity. Economists measure productivity by the value of output per hour worked. One of the best figures I have seen tracking this measure over time is reproduced below. NZ's performance is woeful, to say the least. Lets break the figures down a bit.


The government of Helen Clark was in power for nine full years, from 2000 to 2008. From the start to the end of the Clark years, productivity rose by 9.9 percentage points. During the last two terms of the Clark government, when the effects of its policies would've had time to work their way through, productivity rose by 5.3 percentage points.


The Key-English government also lasted nine full years, from 2009 to 2017. From the start to the end of the Key-English years, productivity rose by 2.8 percentage points. During the last two terms of the Key-English government, when the effects of its policies would've had time to work their way through, productivity FELL by 1.8 percentage points.