Economist says older workers taking jobs from young people

Economist says older workers taking jobs from young people

BNZ economist Stephen Toplis says older workers appear to be snatching the jobs of young people, and the NZ Government needs to get a better grip on the way the nation’s labour market is working.

“There’s a lot of wild and woolly stuff going on that is raising significant question marks over whether the necessary labour supply is available to meet New Zealand’s ongoing growth needs,” he said.

Policymakers at the Treasury and the Reserve Bank would need a deep understanding of the labour market to set the ground rules, he said.

There had been a disproportionate rise in the unemployment rate for workers aged 15 to 19, which was now a “staggering” 27.5 per cent, and the next age group – 20 to 24 years – had a rate of 13.5 per cent.

Workers over 25 – who could be seen as a proxy for “skilled workers” – had a rate of just 4.6 per cent.

On average, the youth unemployment rate had been 11.8 percentage points higher than the non-youth rate since 1986, but by March this year the difference was 21.9 percentage points.

Toplis said it was “curious” that despite the relative surge in the youth unemployment rate, the proportion of unemployed people who were youths had actually fallen.

Between the peak in youth employment at the end of 2007 and now there were 50,500 fewer workers in the 15-19-year age group, a fall of 31.6 per cent, even though there had been an increase of 2400 in total number of people employed.

“The oldies are on the march … it’s an oldies takeover,” Toplis said.

Over 56,000 people aged over 60 found jobs in the same period, and 41 per cent of them were aged 65 and over.


I always thought that theorists like economists were all for the free market. If older people are filling jobs at a much faster rate than young people then surely it is just the market at work.

I want to see young people employed as much as anyone, but if they are not getting hired then perhaps it is not the government that needs to be doing something about it but the young people themselves.

If I was advising a young person looking for work I would be schooling them on what the people actually doing the hiring are looking for. Regardless of the job there are some universal pitfalls that young people should be avoiding.

In short, most employers do NOT like;

– Body piercings, tattoo’s, angst and angst ridden attitudes.
– Poorly written and presented CV’s and non-existent covering letters.
– Unemployed fit and healthy people who have not gotten off their arses and done some voluntary work amongst the job hunting to gain skills and demonstrate a good work ethic.
– Applicants who show up to interviews in casual attire.
– Job seekers who cannot articulate why they want the job and what skills and attributes they possess that the employer needs.

I would suggest that as far as age discrimination goes it is the older people who suffer the most. Many young people are merely victims of poor planning and preparation.

I am happy to debate my comments. I am also happy to assist any unemployed young person out there who would like their CV reviewed by a professional for no charge.

Just sent email your details, CV and a brief history of your job hunting experience so far to Dave at

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