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Strong employment growth sees fall in unemployment

11 November 2003 Media Statement

Strong employment growth sees fall in unemployment

The continued strength of the New Zealand economy has seen more New Zealanders move in to work over the winter and driven unemployment to its lowest level in 16 years, Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said today.

According to Statistics New Zealand’s Household Labour Force Survey for the September 2003 quarter the official unemployment rate now stands at 4.4 percent (down 0.3 percentage points). Unemployment was last at these levels in December 1987, when the official unemployment rate was 4.2 percent.

New Zealand’s unemployment rate is now the fifth lowest in the OECD, below that of the United Kingdom (5.0 percent), Japan (5.1 percent) Australia (5.8 percent) and the United States (6.1 percent). The average unemployment rate amongst OECD nations was 7.1 percent.

Steve Maharey said it was particularly pleasing to see falls in unemployment amongst those all the groups that typically experience higher rates of unemployment.

“The unemployment rates for Maori (9.7 percent), Pacific peoples (6.6 percent) and young people aged 20-24 years (6.0 percent) have all fallen, while the number of long term unemployed has also fallen by 4,500 over the year. This is the first time Maori unemployment has dropped below 10 percent since December 1987.

“The number of people in employment has now grown by 10 percent since the Labour-led government took office, with 176,000 more New Zealanders enjoying the security of paid work.

“Job growth this quarter has been shared around, with both unemployed New Zealanders moving back in to the workforce, as well those not currently in the labour force (for example mothers returning to work or those completing tertiary study), finding paid work.

“The message from these statistics is that the government needs to keep its focus on improving skills amongst workers and those looking for work – and to continue with practical job finding assistance for those not already in the workforce, such as the recently announced Jobs Jolt package,” Steve Maharey said.

ENDS

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