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Beehive Bulletin – 11 August 2006

Beehive Bulletin – 11 August 2006

Employment highest, unemployment lowest on record

The latest Household Labour Force Survey results are endorse the Labour-led Government's management of the economy. Statistics for the quarter ending June 2006 show the unemployment rate fell to 3.6%, NZ's equal lowest unemployment rate on record. At the same time, participation in the labour force increased to 68.8%, the highest rate ever recorded. 2.13 million Kiwis are now in work, more than at any time in history, and almost all that increase is driven by full-time, rather than part-time, work.

Women gained employment 50% faster than men, and labour force participation for women is now at a record high of 62.2%. The number of unemployed also fell 8.5% in the June quarter, from 86,000 to 79,000. The encouraging results parallel the latest quarterly benefit figures, showing 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.

Working for Families working for New Zealand

Income statistics in the Social Report 2006, published this week, show the Government was right to introduce targeted tax relief through Working for Families. The statistics, sourced from the 2004 Household Economic Survey, show that income inequality increased between 2001 and 2004, before Working for Families was implemented. Incomes rose across the board during that time, but the highest incomes increased quicker than the rest.

Labour's targeted tax relief policy, approved by a majority of New Zealanders at the 2005, works now to even up the disparity. The Social Report also follows last week's report on more Kiwi families taking up their Working for Families entitlements.

Business and finance: Dr Cullen on "the Mood of the Boardroom"

In a speech to the NZ Herald's annual "Mood of the Boardroom" survey function, Finance Minister Michael Cullen notes the Labour-led government's renewed mandate for transforming the economy, along with progress on investment in skills and infrastructure and reform of regulatory systems. The Herald's survey showed that whilst 90 percent of CEOs would respond to a cut in the company tax rate by retaining earnings and reinvesting, 65 percent would increase pay and 65 percent stated that they would pay larger dividends.

So employees and shareholders would receive only a small proportion of the lost revenue from a straight reduction in company tax. The Labour-led government wants an intelligent discussion of the options for business tax, and has signalled a willingness to forego revenue, so long as the flow-on benefits are there. The Herald's survey also shows the business community has a pragmatic rather than ideological attitude on business tax. Dr Cullen's full speech is here

Health: MeNZB vaccinations highly effective

Evidence of the effectiveness of the MeNZB vaccine confirms that the government's decision to invest in ending the Meningococcal B epidemic was correct. A Victoria University study shows young Kiwis who are not immunised have a five times higher risk of getting the disease than those who are fully immunised.

It shows also that the decline in Meningococcal B cases since the vaccination programme began has not been solely due to the natural progression of the epidemic. The $200 million campaign his has been the largest mass immunisation programme in NZ's history, a bold step in the Labour-led government's work for families. All young New Zealanders need to complete their vaccination courses. More info here: www.immunise.moh.govt.nz.

Government online: new services for building sector and for education

A new government website delivers faster, easier access to information and services related to building laws, housing services such as weathertightness, and tenancy advice. The Department of Building and Housing's new website -- www.dbh.govt.nz-- helps builders, architects, engineers, home owners, tenants and landlords, find exactly what's relevant to them, quicker than ever before, through better navigation features. Also this week, a new e-enrolment system for schools will make it easier to keep track of students and ensure they don't fall through the cracks when they leave a school.

The web-based ENROL system goes live in 124 Auckland schools from next week, and a further 339 secondary and intermediate schools nationwide over the next month. It improves the information that goes with students from school to school, and helps retain students in the school system until they are 16.


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