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Time Right For Honest Unemployment Figures

Time Right For Honest Unemployment Figures

ACT New Zealand Employment Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today urged the Government to advance to a new, and more honest, measure of the true rate of unemployment.

"With today's Household Labour Force Survey stating that the unemployment rate is holding, it is a time when, politically, the Labour Government can front up to the HLFS deception," Dr Newman said.

"The HLFS figures show that only around 6,000 people have been unemployed for more than two years, yet Parliamentary Questions have the actual number closer to 40,000.

"It is already known that the HLFS massively understates unemployment figures. What is worse is that it understates long-term unemployment. It is outrageous to have a measure that classes someone as employed if they are on the dole, but have completed one hour's work during the week of the surveyor's visit. If the person has not, then their unemployment is measured from their last hour of paid work.

"This effectively means that if someone has been unemployed for more than five years, yet worked for one hour a month before the surveyor's visit, they are counted as being unemployed for only a month. This is incredibly misleading.

"ACT has long called for the HLFS to be used in conjunction with a more accurate measure - such as the number of people on the dole. This has worked effectively in a growing number of countries - such as Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark.

"The Government has already admitted that it is in the process of designing a report, to be released at the same time as the HLFS, to more accurately depict the true state of taxpayer-funded benefit dependence in New Zealand. I am calling on Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey to speed that process up, so that we can see the full extent of the problem with New Zealand's welfare system," Dr Newman said.

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