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Employment growth highlighted in new report

Employment growth highlighted in new report

The latest stocktake of the government’s Employment Strategy shows that New Zealand continues to make significant progress in tackling unemployment, Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said today.

Total employment grew by 3.3 percent (or 61,000 new jobs) and unemployment fell to its lowest level in 16 years in the year to September 2003. Most of these jobs (51,000) were full-time positions.

Among other key results for the year to September 2003 highlighted in the report: the Ministry of Social Development assisted 47,000 into stable employment (jobs of three months duration or longer); employment rose in all regions of New Zealand except the Bay of Plenty; and Maori had the best employment growth of the three main ethnic groups, higher than for Europeans or Pacific peoples.

Steve Maharey said with continuing strong employment growth, the government was now concentrating harder on improving the skill base of the labour market and encouraging greater levels of productivity.

“New Zealand’s labour market has remained exceptionally strong thanks largely to continued growth in the economy. The labour force participation rate remained high, employment growth continued to improve and the unemployment rate reached a 16-year low of 4.4 percent in the September 2003 quarter.

“Giving New Zealanders the security of paid work is the most sensible social development policy any government can pursue.

“Persistent efforts by the government and others to remove the barriers to work has also contributed to these results. This has included the skills and employment meetings Ministers have hosted with employers and union representatives in all regions of the country to identify what practical steps can be taken locally to promote regional economic and job growth.

“Real challenges remain however, largely because the labour market has been growing so strongly. These include the need to significantly increase the number of workers involved in industry training so they are equipped for today’s workforce and a stronger focus through the ‘Jobs Jolt’ package on those groups of beneficiaries who have not moved in to the labour force as rapidly as others,” Steve Maharey said.

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