Inequality is not ‘flat to falling’, Minister

Inequality is not ‘flat to falling’, Minister

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CTU Media Release:

Assertions by the Finance Minister about inequality are not borne out by the facts, the CTU said today.

Bill English told TVNZ’s Q+A programme on Sunday that inequality in New Zealand is ‘flat to falling’.

Yet an analysis by the CTU on the incomes of those at the very highest shows that rather than falling, it is skyrocketing.  Income data recently released by Inland Revenue shows that in the two years to March 2013 (the latest available data) shows a sharp rise in inequality due to rapid rises in high incomes.“ The average income of the top 1% has risen steeply since 2011,” said CTU Secretary Sam Huggard.

“For this group, the average income rose from $298,000 in the year to March 2011 to $382,000 in the year to March 2013.”

“This is an increase from 8.5 times the average income to 9.7 times.”

“The average income of the top 0.1% is estimated to have risen from $665,000 to $892,000 over the same period, from 19 times the average income to 23 times.”

“How this can be described as ‘flat or falling’ beggars belief.”

“Unions will continue to push for a more equal society and lifting wages is the single most effective way to achieve this.”

“Across the country workers will be making their case for a decent payrise this year. They are due for a catch-up after several years of low increases which were below what the economy can afford.  That is especially true for workers such as those in health care whose pay went up by only 0.7% on average in the last year,” Huggard said.