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Maharey Ignores Soaring Long-Term Unemployment

ACT Employment Spokesman Muriel Newman today released official Department of Work and Income statistics which show that the number of people registered as out of work for more than a year rose nearly 1.5 percent in October alone, to a record 110,081.

“On January 27, 1998, when in Opposition, the now Employment Minister Steve Maharey, commented on this same series of registered unemployment statistics. He expressed his ‘particular concern’ that the long-term unemployed had risen to 57,000. He said then: ‘We are now starting to get the real picture – and it isn’t pretty’.

“Well, the real picture now is that since taking office Mr Maharey has presided over a nearly 24 percent increase in the number of people unemployed for more than a year. So what is the Minister doing now that the figure is nearly double what it was when he thought it wasn’t ‘pretty’? Is he suggesting special measures to help out these 110,081 people who have all at some stage walked into a DWI office and declared themselves jobless?

“No. He is now trying to say these people don’t exist. This figure is now just a ‘Work and Income administration tool’. Now the Minister hides behind the Household Labour Force Survey, which is useful for international comparisons, but does have shortcomings. Whereas the DWI measures all people who sign on as unemployed, the HLFS is a sample survey. In addition, if you are on a benefit and have worked just one hour in the week you are surveyed the HLFS does not classify you as out of work. Similarly, if you have given up looking for a job, nor are you classified as being unemployed.

“When in Opposition Mr Maharey recognised these shortcomings and gave credence to the DWI figures.

“But now that he is responsible for the plight of the 110,081 people who are starting to forget what it is like to have a job, he is choosing to deny their existence.

“I challenge the Minister to stop hiding his head in the sand and front up to the fact that he has a serious long-term unemployment problem on his hands. We will all suffer the social consequences if these 110,081 people cannot break the cycle of dependency. Instead of denying their existence, the Minister should be working intensively with those who are long term unemployed, asking them to make a full-time commitment to work enhancing activities. That would do more to support people off welfare than any other measure,” Dr Newman said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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