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Friday, May 8

Unemployment continues upward trend

While New Zealand’s employment market is holding up well, unemployment figures out today show the upward trend continuing, says the Minister of Social Development and Employment Paula Bennett.

The Household Labour Force Survey puts the official rate of unemployment at 5.0 percent, up from 4.7 percent on the December quarter.

“Today’s rate is within market predictions, which had been as high as 5.3 percent. While a lower rate will be welcomed, there’s a continuing trend upward of unemployment. That is, of course, of concern to the Government,” Ms Bennett says.

The labour force participation rate is down in the March quarter to 68.4 percent, from a record high in the December quarter of 69.1 percent.

Ms Bennett says while more people have exited the labour force, the number of those participating in it is still at the second highest ever level.

“I think there’ll be people out there who are taking a look at the current economic climate and making decisions about how to get through it. One of those decisions – being backed up by Studylink applications – seems to be a turn to education.”

“However, the upward trend in unemployment is hitting young people particularly hard. That’s worrying and is a priority for this Government.”

New Zealand is faring better than other OECD countries. It has overtaken Australia in the OECD rankings and remains well ahead of the United States, which has an unemployment rate of 8.5 percent.

“We know unemployment will continue to rise this year. The focus of this Government remains job creation and growth,” Ms Bennett says.

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