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Dropping Registered Unemployed Welcome

4 April 2001

Dropping Registered Unemployed Welcome – But More Work To Do Says Maharey

A fall of 24,048 registered unemployed since the election is welcome, but the Government remains committed to actively helping more beneficiaries off welfare and into real paying jobs, Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said today.

Mr Maharey was releasing responses to opposition Parliamentary questions detailing the number job seekers registered with the Department of Work and Income (DWI). The information shows that total number of persons registered unemployed with DWI fell from 233,411 in November 1999 to 209,636 at the end of February 2001. Mr Maharey said the results were a good start.

"Job seeker statistics need to be read with caution as they include people who are legitimately not included in the only offical and internationally comparable measure of unemployment – Statistics New Zealand's Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) which shows unemployment at its lowest since 1988.

"DWI stable employment outcomes and placements have also improved since the Government has been in office.

"Many people on the job seeker register are already in part-time, casual, or temporary work and are declaring income.

"The job seeker register is an administrative database to provide assistance to those poeple looking for more work. It is subject to policy and administrative changes. Investigations last year have shown that register numbers have been boasted because of the requirement that a wider range of people receiving income support register as job seekers, an increase in the number of people registering voluntarily, and administrative changes to the lapsing procedure.

"Nevertheless, it is pleasing to see that numbers on the register dropping. However the statistics also show that Maori and Pacific peoples are not moving off the register into employment as quickly as others, and there a degree of regional variation.

"The Government's focus is on supporting people off welfare and into real jobs earning a real wage. The abolition of the work-for-the-dole scheme from this week was a key step in refocussing DWI on this primary objective. From 1 July new Job Seeker Agreements will further emphasise the importance of upskilling for a return to work and the consequences of not meeting these obligations.

"Plainly we need to do more to ensure that unemployed New Zealanders get the support they need to get into work. We also need to focus particular attention on those who have been out of work for longer periods so that they and their families also get the benefits of our growing economy," Steve Maharey said.

Ends

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