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Unemployment benefit numbers at lowest since 1979

Unemployment benefit numbers at lowest since 1979

The number of New Zealanders receiving the Unemployment Benefit is now under 20,000 and has fallen 88 per cent since 1999, Prime Minister Helen Clark and Social Development Minister Ruth Dyson announced today.

“The number of people receiving an unemployment benefit has dropped from 161,128 in December 1999 to 19,034 as at 31 March 2008. That is the lowest number since 1979 when our population was around one million smaller than it is today,” Helen Clark said.

“In the past year alone, the number of people receiving the unemployment benefit has fallen by 9,811 or 34 per cent.

“Having fewer people on the unemployment benefit, creating a record number of jobs, and keeping the unemployment rate amongst the lowest in the developed world, all count among the Labour-led Government’s biggest achievements,” Helen Clark said.

Ruth Dyson said that the Labour-led Government’s Working New Zealand changes to benefit administration have contributed directly to reductions in the numbers of the long term unemployed and youth unemployed, as well as to a drop in the numbers of those on sickness benefits.

“Working New Zealand introduced a new approach for the Department of Work and Income, which recognises that most people want to work and that they can with the right support, such as education, training, and work preparation. We also help disabled New Zealanders and those with ill health to take part in planning for work where appropriate.

“The number of people receiving the Sickness Benefit in March this year is 45,676; the lowest since July 2005, proving that our new approach is making a real difference.

“Working For Families is also helping to reduce benefit numbers. Since its introduction in 2004, the number of people on the Domestic Purposes Benefit has fallen by nearly 13,000, the largest fall in the numbers receiving the DPB since it was introduced in 1973.

“According to the Ministry of Social Development, since 2004, there has been an increase in the numbers of DPB recipients stating employment as a reason for exiting benefit and both the Census and the Household Labour Force Survey have shown employment rates of sole mothers are increasing,” Ruth Dyson said.

Key changes between March 2007 and March 2008 benefit figures:

31 per cent drop in the number of 18-19 year olds receiving unemployment benefit to 1,073

41 per cent reduction in long term unemployed benefit numbers(two years or more) down to 4,290

32 per cent drop in Pacific Island unemployment benefit numbers to 1,746

27 per cent drop in Maori unemployment benefit numbers to 7,248

4.6 per cent drop in numbers of sickness beneficiaries to 45,676

4 per cent drop in the numbers of total working age beneficiaries to 255,754.


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