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Employment trends welcome

Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey today welcomed evidence of a steady improvement in employment.

The results of the Household Labour Force Survey for the March 2000 quarter were released today showing the number of people in employment has increased by 24,000 from the March 1999 quarter. The number of people in full-time employment has increased by 5,000 since the December 1999 quarter. The unemployment rate now stands at 6.4%. Long-term unemployment has fallen for both the quarter and the year.

"The Government welcomes today's information because it reveals that unemployment is tracking at significantly less than for the same period last year. The unemployment rate has increased slightly – up 0.1% – on the last quarter.

"There is certainly no suggestion, from these figures, that there are any medium-term risks of the economy overheating.

"It is clear that the December quarter numbers reflected one-off employment increases associated with millennium, Y2K and the America's Cup, primarily in the service industries.

"I particularly welcome the drop in the number of long-term unemployed. When coupled with the increase in full-time jobs, this suggests that the positive employment growth trend is likely to be sustainable into the future.

"Mäori unemployment has fallen significantly – down by 4.4%. However as a Government we remain concerned about the large disparity between the rate of Mäori unemployment and the rate for general population.

"Unemployment continues to be a blight on our younger population. This provides further evidence of the need for the Government's focus on providing opportunities for young people to upskill themselves for the modern workforce.

"Much more work has to be done in this area. The Government remains committed to reducing the rate of unemployment and this can be achieved without compromising our other economic objectives", Steve Maharey said.

ends

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