Back to Work: New Zealand

Improving the Re-employment Prospects of Displaced Workers

image of Back to Work: New Zealand

Job displacement (involuntary job loss due to firm closure or downsizing) affects many workers over their lifetime. Displaced workers may face long periods of unemployment and, even when they find new jobs, tend to be paid less and have fewer benefits than in their prior jobs. Helping them get back into good jobs quickly should be a key goal of labour market policy. This report is part of a series of reports looking at how this challenge is being tackled in a number of OECD countries. It shows that in New Zealand most displaced workers find a new job again, largely due to a strong economy and a highly flexible labour market. But many of them face large losses in terms of job quality and especially wages. And displaced workers facing difficulties in New Zealand are largely left on their own to find a new job, as the means-tested public benefit system only provides for people in need and employment services concentrate on helping people off benefit with limited focus on those not receiving a benefit.

Nine countries are participating in the review: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan,

Korea, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States.


Chapter 1. Job displacement in New Zealand and its consequences

Chapter 2 Easing the impact of economic restructuring on displaced workers in New Zealand

Chapter 3 Re-employment support for displaced workers in New Zealand who struggle to find a new job



Assessment and recommendations

A continuous process of labour reallocation generates large job and worker flows across and within industries. Such reallocation of labour is an important source of productivity gains, as declining firms are replaced by more productive ones. At the same time, this process of economic restructuring can imply significant costs for the workers involved. This report analyses whether New Zealand’s policy approach delivers satisfactory outcomes for displaced workers.


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