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Government welcomes fall in unemployment

Government welcomes fall in unemployment

Confirmation of continuing employment growth is being welcomed by the government.

Statistics New Zealand’s Household Labour Force Survey for the December 2002 quarter was released this morning. Employment growth over the quarter has seen New Zealand’s official unemployment rate fall to 4.9 percent, down from 5.4 percent for the September 2002 quarter.

Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said there are now 123,000 more New Zealanders employed than there were when the Labour-led government took office in December 1999.

“Continued employment growth, now into its tenth consecutive quarter, has seen our official unemployment rate fall to levels not experienced since March 1988.

“New Zealand is now experiencing one of the lowest unemployment rates in the OECD. We are significantly below the OECD average of 7.1 percent and are now ranked ninth amongst the 27 nations with standardised unemployment rates. Our rate of unemployment is lower than all our major trading partners, including the United Kingdom (5.1 percent), Japan (5.5 percent), the United States (6.0 percent) and Australia (6.2 percent).

“Particularly welcome trends revealed by the survey include: a decline in unemployment for all ethnic groups over the quarter and the year – although unemployment rates for Maori (11.4 percent, down from 12.9 percent a year ago) and Pacific Peoples (8.2 percent, down from 9.9 percent a year ago) remain unacceptably high; growth in full time employment more than offsetting a decrease in the number of people in part-time employment; and statistically significant falls in the number of people unemployed in both Auckland and Canterbury and an increase in the number of people employed in most regions.

“As with all surveys, quarterly movements are not as valuable as looking at longer term trends. Continued growth in the number of people in work will be welcomed by all New Zealanders. However, as has always been the case, we do need to work hard to share the benefits of our growing economy fairly,” Steve Maharey said.

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