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Friday, November 6

Unemployment rate up, benefit numbers down

Figures released today show the official rate of unemployment has again risen, says the Social Development and Employment Minister Paula Bennett.

The Household Labour Force Survey puts the official rate of unemployment at 6.5 percent for the September quarter, up from 6.0 percent on the June quarter.

Paula Bennett says that's in line with what was expected.

"Yes, New Zealand has come out of recession - just. But unemployment tends to lag behind an economy getting back on its feet. Recent forecasts though have unemployment peaking closer to 7 percent, instead of the 8 percent forecast in the Budget.

"We've also seen a drop in the number of people requiring an Unemployment Benefit. For the month of October, the total number dropped below 60,000, to 59,955. In September, 60,600 were on the Unemployment Benefit.

"This Government's investment in 300 more frontline staff at Work and Income has made a real difference in helping people find work. The rate at which people coming through their doors leave without needing a benefit has risen to over 40 percent last week.

"This  - combined with the policies the Government has introduced - is having a real impact. In September the youth benefit numbers were 19,845. Today's October benefit figures show youth unemployment is still high - 19,461 young people between 15 and 24 are on an Unemployment Benefit.

"But that would've been so much higher were it not for our Job Ops and Community Max schemes, which has created nearly 2,400 employment opportunities for young people," Paula Bennett says.

The percentage of working age people on an Unemployment Benefit is 2.1 percent in New Zealand, compared to Australia's 4.5 percent using the latest available data.

Compared to the rest of the OECD, New Zealand's 6.5 unemployment rate is holding up well, although it's dropped a place to 10th. The OECD average is 8.6

"We know the Unemployment Benefit numbers will rise again, particularly as students join the job market over the summer break. It's too soon to say we're through the worst, but expect to see more rolling maul initiatives from this Government," says Paula Bennett.