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Employment growth sees fall in unemployment

Stronger than expected employment growth sees fall in unemployment

Continued employment growth, against expectations, has seen New Zealand’s unemployment rate fall to its lowest level in sixteen years.

According to Statistics New Zealand’s Household Labour Force Survey for the June 2003 the official unemployment rate now stands at 4.7 percent (down 0.3 percentage points from the March 2003 quarter). The last time unemployment was lower was December 1987, when the unemployment rate was at 4.2 percent.

The number of people in work increased by 0.8 percent during the June quarter (an 15,000 extra people in work), meaning that the number of New Zealanders in work has increased by 148,000 since the Labour-led government has been in office.

Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said a strong domestic economy was behind the welcome fall in the number of Kiwis out of work.

“Several factors have led to this fall in unemployment. Notably a growth in employment in the construction, health and community services, education and wholesale and retail sectors. There has also been growth in the number of people in tertiary education which has seen the labour force participation rate remain steady.

“New Zealand’s unemployment rate is now eighth amongst OECD nations and well below the average unemployment rate of 7.2 percent. We are now experiencing lower unemployment than all of our major trading partners including the United Kingdom (5.0), Japan (5.4), Australia (6.0) and the United States (6.1).

“The unemployment figures reinforce the importance of the government’s Jobs Jolt package, announced this week. With one-in-seven of New Zealand firms reporting the inability to obtain skilled staff as their biggest constraint it is clear that there is potential to drive unemployment even lower. Giving more job seekers skills training so they can take up these jobs, and ensuring they are more active in the search for work, will achieve real results,” Steve Maharey said.

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