This study investigates the impact of COVID-19 (COVID) on the labour market disparities between Pasifika and New Zealand European (NZ European). To analyse these disparities, the authors assess labour market outcomes for the pre-pandemic period (January 2017–December 2019, inclusive) and quantify how they changed during the COVID period (March 2020–June 2021, inclusive). The authors are interested in understanding whether COVID amplified ethnic disparities in job accession and benefit dependence, job and wage mobility and job separation.

Key findings:

  • There are significant pre-pandemic ethnic disparities between NZ European and Pasifika in the labour market. These are primarily observable in job-entry wages following a period of non-employment (commonly known and thereby referred to as wage scarring for the remainder of the report) and wage progression of the employed.
  • The COVID period substantially impacted young Pasifika living in Auckland for 2021 by exacerbating the wage scarring effect and increasing benefit dependency.
  • The industries hit the hardest during COVID (in terms of lower wage growth) positively correlate with where Pasifika are more prevalent in the workforce. This is manufacturing and construction for Pasifika men, and manufacturing and healthcare and social assistance for Pasifika women.
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