2017 OECD Economic Surveys: New Zealand 2017

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New Zealand is enjoying strong economic growth, driven by booming tourism, high net immigration, solid construction activity and supportive monetary policy. The fiscal position is sound, with low public debt and a balanced budget. The major economic vulnerability emanates from high levels of household debt associated with rapid increases in house prices, which have reached high levels relative to fundamentals. Barriers to expanding housing supply are being reduced, and macro-prudential measures have been taken to contain financial stability risks, but further measures may be needed. While the short-term economic outlook is strong, there are longer-term challenges from low productivity growth, a changing labour market and some growing environmental pressures. Addressing these challenges would secure sustainable improvements in well-being for all New Zealanders.


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Adapting to the changing labour market

Technological change is increasing the productivity of highly skilled workers but creating more challenging labour-market conditions for their low-skilled counterparts. These pressures are likely to grow, especially in light of progress being made in Artificial Intelligence. The NZ labour force is upskilling to meet these challenges, but more progress will be needed to keep ahead of the race with technology. Young New Zealanders will need to continue their education to higher levels than in the past and acquire skills that are more highly valued in the labour market. To maintain valuable skills, workers of all ages will need to engage more in lifelong learning. Some will need to retrain when their occupation becomes obsolete. Getting the most out of skills will also depend on allocating skills to their most productive uses. Reducing New Zealand’s high rates of qualification and skills mismatches would boost both wages and productivity. With the possibility of more workers being displaced than in the past, greater efforts may need to be considered to help them get back into jobs.



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