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NZ unemployment lowest in OECD

11 February 2005

NZ unemployment lowest in OECD

At 3.6%, New Zealand's unemployment rate is now the lowest in the developed world and the lowest ever recorded by the Household Labour Force Survey.

In addition to record-low unemployment the December HLFS also showed that female participation in the work force has reached a record high at over 60% and long-term unemployment fell by a third in 2004.

Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey welcomed the news and signalled that the government will continue to provide opportunities for those New Zealanders still needing to join the workforce. He also reiterated the government's focus on addressing industry skills shortages.

"Today's announcement that New Zealand enjoys the lowest unemployment rate in the OECD is great news," Steve Maharey said. "New Zealanders should be proud of this historic achievement.

"Reaching a world-leading 3.6% unemployment rate is proof of the economic and social strength of 21st century New Zealand.

"In the past couple of years, we've become used to rapid falls in unemployment, but we need to step back and appreciate just how far we've come. In the 1990's we saw unemployment skyrocket to over 11%. Before we were elected in 1999 it stood at nearly 7%.

"There are now 264,000 more people employed then when the Labour-led government took office.

"We've now gone from a situation of not enough work to where some industries are saying there aren't enough people.

"My colleague Labour Minister Paul Swain will be focussing on efforts to improve workplace productivity so that profits and wages continue to grow along with employment. For the first time there is now a consensus across government, business and unions for us all to take responsibility for this issue."

ENDS

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