9 February 2012
Unemployment still too high
While the small fall in unemployment from 6.6 to 6.3 percent is welcome, unemployment remains at a disturbing level, says CTU Economist Bill Rosenberg.
“It is sobering to remember that at the Jobs Summit in 2009, unemployment was raising national concern at 5.1 percent. Yet now, 3 years later, it is worse and has changed little since its peak in late 2009. We have now had 150,000 or more people unemployed with only one brief break since mid 2009.
“Employment is only just keeping pace with growth in the working-age population. It may be that the Rugby World Cup was a contributor to the fall in unemployment in this quarter, so it is difficult to say whether this fall is a trend.”
“The number of jobless is now 261,300.”
“The slow fall in unemployment cannot be blamed on the situation in Christchurch. Canterbury’s unemployment fell by half percentage point, from 5.5 percent to 5.0 percent in the quarter, and a full 1 percentage point from 6.0 percent over the year. However there are disturbing trends there with people dropping out of the workforce and lower participation rates, against the national trend.”
“The government has put heavy reliance on the Rugby World Cup and Canterbury rebuild to boost employment and create jobs but the tournament is over and the rebuild is just beginning with little to show for national unemployment.”
“The employment situation for young people has worsened. The proportion of 15-24 year olds not in employment, education or training has risen from 12.4 percent to 13.1 percent since the September quarter. The government cannot continue to pretend that depriving people of their work rights for their first 90 days of employment is fixing this problem.”
“Despite the government regularly telling us the New Zealand economy is doing better than most other developing countries, our unemployment rate has slipped behind others in the OECD. We have slipped from 2nd best in the OECD for low unemployment to 12th.”
“We need more action on jobs from the government,” Rosenberg says. “Programmes like Task Force Green, Community Max and Job Opportunities need a boost – and there needs to be renewed focus on training initiatives to equip the unemployed for any upturn. What the Government is currently doing is simply not enough.”