Again the wires inform us of .agitations by the unemployed for work, and these are being made in every part of the colony, but chiefly in the centres of population. Many people are sceptical of the existence to any great extent of real distress, and urge that steady, respectable, competent men do not require to be without the means of livelihood. This may be so, but there can be no doubt entertained by thinking men of work being far less plentiful than we have known it, and that through the great influx of immigi’ation competitors for what is to be had have largely increased in number. Notwithstanding all that has been said on the subject, no diminution appears to have taken place in the number of people who keep coming to the colony, and every ship that arrives brings its contingent of labor. Doubtless those laborers are brought here under different conditions from those who were imported under the indiscriminate regulations in vogue two years ago, but still, though their friends nominate them, or they pay their own passages, they have to enter the labor market when they arrive here, and, as the agitations we have referred to show, that market is glutted. It is a question how the supply and demand are to be regulated, too, for we can see no prospect in the near future of the demand being at all equal to the supply. The present harvest is perhaps the most bountiful we have ever reaped, and it has been gathered from the largest area ever cropped in the colony, yet there were far more laborers wanting employment at it then ever before. To the skilled workman New Zealand does not offer many attractions as a field for immigration, for its manufactures are few and but poorly developed, while the circumstances of the Government have caused a great retrenchment to take place in the prosecution of public works. The question of the unemployed is a--; difficult one to cope with, but we are glad to notice that Government are willing to• do what they can to relieve the immediate pressure. Still, Government cannot go on for ever finding work for men who cannot obtain it from private employers, and the older the colony grows the more workers -will enter the labor market, and it will require a time of great prosperity to fully absorb those already here. Government does well, therefore, to instruct the Home Agents to make known the state of the labor market here, for it is only by reducing or actually stopping immigration for a time that the supply of labor can be kept within the demand for it, and it would be well if the friends here of those in the old Country would tell to them a true tale of the actual state of the country. It is just as easy to be hard up here as, at Home, and the money paid for passages would be as well retained for a time.
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 72, 11 March 1880
THE UNEMPLOYED. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 72, 11 March 1880
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