From Statistics New Zealand’s fantastic yearbook, this index of labour productivity for mining jumped out at me. If you look at how other industries have fared – mining seems to have really dropped off.
I would argue that this chart supports my theory that more resource extraction would soak up excess labour – labour productivity hasn’t increased so much that a marginal unit of labour is cost prohibitive as opposed to resource projects in Australia being cancelled because hundreds of guys on A$150,000+ adds up.
It is also interesting because mining is a capital intensive industry. Look at the labour productivity of “information media and communications”, which I assume is ICT and software development: