DPF has a chart up of HLFS employment data mocking the claims that there’s crisis in manufacturing, but absentmindedly forgot to zero the y axis or include data-points prior to 2009, or adjust for population growth which happens to generate a chart that supports his argument. Here’s one from the same dataset, without those totally unintentional errors.
It’d be interesting to throw the exchange rate there on a secondary axis. My memory is that it was pretty high for the last years of the Labour government, but we didn’t see a decline in manufacturing until the GFC kicked in.
Also, the HLFS doesn’t include the September quarter yet, and the couple hundred job-losses a week for the last several months is what’s freaked everyone (except Key and Joyce) out.