Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Supply and demand

Its January, and therefore it must be time for the usual seasonal whine from employers about a lack of unskilled workers. Normally the culprits are orchards, but this time its from Christchurch, where employers can't find people willing to work for minimum wage:

Trish Paterson, recruitment manager for Christchurch-based employment agency Ryan Recruitment, said many local companies were struggling to fill positions that required no qualifications or skills that can be learned on the job.

"It's not so much that [jobs] are not available, but in a lot of cases they are paying minimum wage and there are other employers paying more, even if it is only 50c per hour, people will move jobs for that," she said.

The company was even struggling to find people to stand with Stop/Go signs to manage traffic at road works.

As is clear from Paterson's comments, the real problem here is that the wages on offer are too low. Housing costs have risen, so people want more money to match; meanwhile, thousands have left the city, so there's a local labour shortage and they can shop around. But rather than recognise this and suggest the obvious solution - increasing wages to a level where people will take your shitty boring job - she instead suggests flooding the market with unskilled immigrants to keep wages down.

Its a perfect example of the hypocrisy of our business community - its all "free market" and "deregulation" until they're on the sharp end of it, when suddenly they want the government to intervene to set prices at an artificially low level and effectively give them a social subsidy through the welfare system. And all so they can enjoy higher profits at our expense.

If you live by the market, you can die by the market. If your business isn't profitable at prevailing wage rates, then its not profitable and should fail. Its that simple.