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Unemployment disparities a shocker – Maori Party

Unemployment disparities the real shocker – Maori Party

Dr Pita Sharples, Employment spokesperson 8 May 2008

“Unemployment figures in the March quarter Household Labour Force Survey are not only an ‘absolute shocker’,” says Maori Party employment spokesperson Dr Pita Sharples, “they are a national disgrace”.

Brendan O’Donovan, chief economist for Westpac has described the seasonally adjusted loss of 29,000 jobs as “an absolute shocker” - pushing the national average unemployment rate to 3.6 per cent.

“But in the detail released today we see that unemployment rates for Maori had shot up from 7.3% in December, to 8.6%. Rates for Pacific peoples are now 8.2%, compared with 3 per cent for Europeans” said Dr Sharples.

“Today’s figures not only reveal the largest percentage decline in employment since March 1989, they also reflect the depth and persistence of poverty being felt more frequently in Māori and Pasifika families.

“We can appreciate that the Household Labour Force Survey has begun collecting ethnicity data using the 2005 New Zealand standard classification of ethnicity, and so adjustment to the statistical analysis is expected”.

“But we will never be able to appreciate how a Government can tolerate such persistent ethnic disparities. Whatever way the numbers roll, our people are still coming out with a bad deal. The growing economicdisparity in Aotearoa is sharply marked in Māori and Pasifika populations,” he said.

“They underline the point in the Child Poverty Action Group’s recent report ‘Left Behind’, that disadvantage is a compounding thing. Unemployment is just one measure – add it to income, education achievement, health status, housing – and you quickly see who is bearing the brunt of the economic downturn.

“If the national average figures were the same as the figures for our people, there would be a national economic crisis and a state of emergency would be declared,” said Dr Sharples.


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