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Clarification: 10-yr plus unemployment statistics

15 January 2003 Media Statement

Clarification: 10-year plus unemployment statistics

Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey is clarifying unemployment statistics released today by ACT MP Muriel Newman and commented on by National MP Katherine Rich.

The statistics record the number of people receiving the unemployment benefit in November 1999 (5,566) and November 2002 (6,166) who have been on benefits for more than 10 years.

Steve Maharey said Mrs Newman and Ms Rich have omitted to include important qualifying information with the statistics which gives a misleading impression.

For example, the Ministry of Social Development advise that more than half of the beneficiaries included in the statistics have a some stage been on other non-work tested benefits (for example, the sickness benefit and the domestic purposes benefit), within the 10-year timeframe and prior to receiving the unemployment benefit, and as such would not have been expected to have been seeking employment.

In addition, the Ministry of Social Development advise that in October 2002, 92% of the beneficiaries included in the statistics were involved in some activity designed to suport their return to the paid workforce. It is therefore not accurate to suggest that this group of beneficiaries is being ignored by the Work and Income service.

ENDS

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