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Unemployment lowest since HLFS records began

Hon David Benson-Pope, MP
Minister for Social Development and Employment
Member of Parliament for Dunedin South

10 November 2005 Media Statement

Unemployment lowest since HLFS records began

Lowest unemployment rate 3.4%; highest rate of participation 68.2%; 300,000 more New Zealanders in work under Labour

Unemployment has fallen to its lowest point since the Household Labour Force Survey began in 1986 with 2,093,000 New Zealanders now in employment.

Statistics New Zealand's quarterly survey shows New Zealand's official unemployment rate has fallen to 3.4 percent, the lowest in the 19-year history of the survey.

The unemployment rate fell a further 0.2 points, down from 3.6 percent in the June quarter, meaning New Zealand still has the lowest rate of unemployment in the OECD – the club of economically developed nations.

Strikingly the labour force participation rate grew a further 0.5 percentage points up to 68.2 percent, also the highest since the HLFS began.

Social Development and Employment Minister David Benson-Pope says this quarter's strong results show some commentators have been overly pessimistic and premature in their predictions of economic slowdown.

"In 2000 there were over 140,000 people on the unemployment benefit and the unemployment rate was 5.8 percent," said Mr Benson-Pope. "Nearing the end of 2005 we have fewer than 50,000 people on the unemployment benefit. There are now over 300,000 more New Zealanders in work today than there were when Labour came to office.

"The labour market remains very tight with employers continuing to report shortages in skills and labour. The government will continue to emphasise skills training. More than 8,000 trainees are now in Modern Apprenticeships. The Labour-led government has doubled industry training funding since 1999 when National was in government, so that by 2007, $141.5 million will be invested annually.

"Labour has also committed to create 5,000 extra modern apprenticeships during this term in government and increase overall participation in industry training to 250,000."

Mr Benson-Pope says the HLFS figures also send a strong signal to employers:
"If they want to attract and retain good staff there is real value in them improving wage levels, investing in child care, and offering employees greater flexibility around work hours."


International Unemployment Rates

Country Unemployment Rate (%) Sept 05 Ranking June 05 Ranking
New Zealand 3.4 1 1
Korea, Republic Of 4.1 2 2
Ireland 4.3 3= 4=
Japan 4.3 3= 3
Switzerland 4.3 3= 4=
United Kingdom 4.6 6 7
Netherlands 4.7 7 8=
Denmark 4.8 8= 8=
Norway 4.8 8= 6
United States 4.9 10 10=
Australia 5.0 11 10=
Austria 5.2 12 12
Luxembourg 5.5 13 13
Sweden 6.3 14 14=
Hungary 6.4 15 14=
All OECD 6.5 … …
Canada 6.8 16 16
Portugal 7.2 17 17
Czech Republic 7.7 18= 18=
Italy 7.7 18= 18=
Belgium 8.0 20 20
Finland 8.2 21 21
Spain 9.4 22 24
France 9.6 23= 23
Germany 9.6 23= 22
Greece 9.9 25 25
Slovak Republic 15.2 26 26
Poland 17.5 27 27

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