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Number on unemployment benefit below 100,000

Number on unemployment benefit below 100,000 for first time in 14 years

The number of people receiving the core unemployment benefit has dropped below 100,000 for the first time in 14 years, Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said today.

According to Ministry of Social Development benefit statistics 98,178 people received the unemployment benefit in the week ending 4 April 2003 – the lowest number since June 1988. The number of people receiving the unemployment benefit peaked at 176,334 in January 1993. The benefit figures mirror job growth figures and New Zealand’s official measure of unemployment, Statistics New Zealand’s Household Labour Force Survey, which at 4.9 percent is also at a 14-year low.

Steve Maharey said the beneficiary statistics demonstrate that the benefits of New Zealand’s growing economy are being widely shared.

“Getting people off benefits and into paid work is the best welfare policy any government can pursue. We’ve known that job growth has been continuing strongly – what these statistics prove is that the jobs are being shared around.

“Falling welfare rolls also spell good news for the taxpayer. Treasury estimates that declining overall benefit numbers have saved the taxpayer $937 million in projected spending on benefit payments.

“Threats to continued job growth, including the SARs virus and drought conditions in many regions, sit out on horizon so it is vital that make the most the current economic situation to lock in these employment gains.

“Nevertheless the figures confirm that New Zealand is continuing to hit the mark in maximising job opportunities and creating the right conditions for employment growth,” Steve Maharey said.

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