Unemployment in the Wellington region jumped sharply in the September quarter to 7.1 per cent.
This was up from 6.4 per cent in the June quarter, while national unemployment jumped to the worst level in 13 years at 7.3 per cent.
The unemployment rate for the region is almost bad as the recent peak of 7.2 per cent in December last year.
Statistics New Zealand figures out today showed that the number of jobs in the Wellington region actually improved slightly to 273,200 in the quarter.
But a big rise in the working age population saw a lift in the number of unemployed to 21,000.
Wellington's unemployment rate is lower than Manawatu-Wanganui on 8.4 per cent, which was up from 7.4 per cent in June.
Wellington's unemployment rate is just under the national average.
However, regional figures do jump up and down significantly from quarter to quarter and are not seen as highly reliable indicators of the job market.
Nationally, unemployment has worsened sharply to 7.3 per cent in the September quarter, up from 6.8 per cent in the June quarter, mainly hitting Maori.
It is the highest unemployment rate since early 1999, 13 years ago.
Overall, the number of unemployed jumped almost 8 per cent by 13,000 in the three months to September, most of them men.
That is the equivalent of about 145 people a day joining the ranks of the unemployed, over the three months.
Council of Trade Unions Secretary says Peter Conway the shocking jump in the unemployment rate shows the government really must make jobs a priority.
"The government needs to act on jobs now."
"There are now 175,000 people unemployed, 294,900 jobless and over 113,000 people looking for more hours at work. This means that we have 400,000 people out of work or looking for more work. This is a national crisis," he said.
"These are not just numbers; they are people, and families. They deserve support and the government needs to give urgent attention to the jobs plight now," Conway said.
Some bank economists has pointed to a weaker economy in the September quarter, but had expected some improvement on the June quarter unemployment, which was seen as probably "too bad to be true".
In the event, the latest figures are even worse.
Maori unemployment jumped from 12.8 per cent in June to 15.1 per cent, to be almost as high as Pacific Islander unemployment of 15.6 per cent, though that was little changed from June.
European unemployment was 5.4 per cent, only marginally worse than in June.
Overall, job numbers fell in the past three months, down 8000, according to Statistics NZ figures just out. That reflected a 9000 fall in the number of men in work, with a slight rise of 1000 more women in work.
Most of the job losses were in full time work, down 14,000, more than wiping out an 11,000 rise in the previous quarter.
"The unemployment rate has stayed between 6.4 and 6.8 percent over the past two years, and has now risen for the third quarter in a row," industry and labour statistics manager Diane Ramsay said.
During the late 1990s recession, unemployment peaked at 8 per cent, but reached a high of more than 11 per cent in 1991.
There were 13,000 more people unemployed in the September 2012 quarter - 10,000 more men and 3,000 more women were unemployed.
Employment fell for the second quarter in a row. This fall was reflected in a decrease in the number of men employed full time. In contrast, the number of women employed increased over the quarter.
The Household Labour Force Survey results are based on a representative sample of 15,000 households throughout New Zealand. The survey is designed to produce reliable estimates of the numbers of people employed, unemployed, and not in the labour force.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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