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Employment highest, unemployment lowest on record

10 August 2006

Employment highest, unemployment lowest on record

The latest Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) results are a strong endorsement of the Labour-led Government's management of the economy, Social Development Minister David Benson-Pope said today.

Statistics for the quarter ending June 2006 show that the unemployment rate has fallen 0.3 percentage points to 3.6%, New Zealand's equal lowest unemployment rate on record.

Labour force participation has increased 0.3 percentage points to 68.8%, the highest rate ever recorded.

2,129,000 New Zealanders are now in work, the highest level of employment ever recorded and up 22,000 from the previous quarter. Almost all that increase is driven by full-time, rather than part-time, work.

Mr Benson-Pope noted the increases are particularly strong for women, whose employment increased by 1.2%, compared to 0.8% for men. Labour force participation for women is now at a record high of 62.2%, an increase of 0.3 percentage points.

The number of unemployed fell 8.5% in the June quarter, from 86,000 to 79,000.

Mr Benson-Pope said that these results parallel the latest quarterly benefit figures, which show that Unemployment Benefit numbers fell below 40,000 for the first time since 1982, and that overall benefit numbers fell by 10,000 in the last year alone.

"The HLFS confirms the Labour Department view that high unemployment is a thing of the past. Unemployment has sat below 4% for the past two years. New Zealand is one of only five out of 27 OECD countries whose unemployment rate is below 4%. We're second in the table, just 0.2 percentage points behind Korea," Mr Benson-Pope said.

Mr Benson-Pope said the fall in the unemployment rate was particularly strong for Pacific people, whose rate fell from 7.6% to 5.9%; and for Maori, whose rate fell from 8.7% to 8.2%.

"This result is a total endorsement of the Labour-led Government's prudent economic management and our initiatives to support people into work, like Working for Families and Work and Income's new service approach," he said.

ENDS

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