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Unemployment down, but New Zealanders want more work

Unemployment down, but New Zealanders want more work

Minister of Employment Willie Jackson has today welcomed the release of the Household Labour Force Survey, which shows unemployment falling to 4.5 per cent.

“This is the lowest unemployment rate in New Zealand since December 2008. Over the December 2017 quarter, the number of people employed rose by 13,000 as people working in full-time jobs rose. New Zealand’s employment rate and labour force participation rate have remained around their recent highs in the final months of the year.

The figures released by Stats NZ today also showed wages are rising. The Quarterly Employment Survey’s average ordinary time weekly earnings increased by 3.1% for full-time equivalent employees in the year to December 2017.

The unemployment and wage data follows on from the most recent Westpac-McDermott Miller Employment Confidence survey showing job availability is the best it’s been in nearly 10 years, and that employees expect this will continue to improve over the next year. The ANZ job advertisement series also recorded its highest monthly rise in three years in January. On top of this, consumer confidence also rose in January.

“However, this Government will not be complacent about meeting the needs of all New Zealanders who wish to work and there are still some real discrepancies that this Government needs to address.

“The employment rate shows a record high and the unemployment rate for Māori is the lowest in a decade. However, the unemployment and under-utilisation rates for Māori are still significantly higher than the general population.

“The latest figures also show that 122,000 people are part-timers wanting more hours. A further 99,000 people want work, but are either not actively looking or not immediately available for work for various reasons.

“These numbers are on top of the 122,000 people who are unemployed and are actively looking for work. This presents an opportunity to make real differences for the groups who were left behind by the previous Government. This will be a key focus for this Government’s employment policy, particularly for Maori, Pasifika and Women.

“I recently announced that the Government will invest $13 million in youth employment programmes in regions with entrenched unemployment.

“This is only the start and we will need to take many steps to ensure that more New Zealanders benefit from better wages and living conditions through participation in meaningful employment,” Mr Jackson says.

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