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Benefit numbers up, youth unemployment up – answers needed

Benefit numbers up, youth unemployment up – answers needed
The Methodist Mission media release – Dunedin, 5 August 2011

Latest figures show more Dunedin people are receiving benefits, more are unemployed, and youth unemployment is up.

“At least one in three Otago young people is jobless. This needs an urgent answer and reintroducing youth rates would only spread the problem to older workers,” the Methodist Mission’s chief executive Laura Black says.

“Other parts of the country may be seeing a recovery; Dunedin appears to be missing out. Local unemployment is up, and so is the number of people on benefits.”

New figures (June 2011 quarter) from Work and Income show there are 8,800 Dunedin and Mosgiel people on benefits. One hundred and five more than a year ago. Four hundred more than March 2010.

This week’s Household Labour Force Survey found 27.6 per cent of 15-19 year olds in New Zealand without a job. That's 39,300 young people. Locally, Otago’s unemployment rate has risen to 5.3% - the highest since March 2010, while many other parts of the country are seeing recoveries.

“Dunedin’s young people are bearing the brunt of this, and it’s time to get beyond blaming them for lacking skills, motivation or the ‘right’ attitude.

“Youth rates don’t create jobs; but they do make it harder for older workers to get work, and they lower the average rate of pay for all. New Zealand already has a problem with its low-wage economy; do we really want to make it worse?

“If we want to increase employment we need to: put effort and resources in to creating more jobs, put effort and resources into becoming a high-wage economy, and ensuring that those without work skills, including those just out of school, get the right training to take up those jobs.

“If we let young people linger in unemployment, we risk not only their futures, but our own. Dunedin’s future depends on a well-trained workforce in sustainable and rewarding jobs. Having all our young people receiving training or education that prepares them for future careers would be the first step.”


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