'There are no jobs for us'

Wellingtonians struggle as unemployment rises

Last updated 06:40 09/11/2012
Elishevah Monrad
Fairfax NZ
ELISHEVAH MONRAD: 'The job market in Wellington is very competitive."
PAULA STURGESS
Fairfax NZ
CORY SMITH: Has a couple of job prospects that look "promising".
PAULA STURGESS
Fairfax NZ
PAULA STURGESS: "There'll be something out there for me."
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The job market is bleak, with unemployment at a 13-year high, affecting Maori and teenagers particularly hard.

Those unemployed now number about 175,000, a grim rate of 7.3 per cent. It is the highest level since Jenny Shipley was prime minister in 1999.

An improvement in job figures is not expected for another year. But some economists think the unemployment rate may be close to its peak and will reduce as Canterbury's rebuilding takes off.

A quick cut in the official cash rate - influencing mortgages - is unlikely, and would not help much as home loan rates are already low, economists say.

Thousands of manufacturing and construction jobs have been lost in the past year, and the Household Labour Force Survey for the September quarter, from Statistics NZ, shows the problem is compounded by businesses cutting the number of fulltime workers.

There are about 113,000 people in part-time jobs who want to work more hours - the highest rate for three years.

Prime Minister John Key said the jobless figures were at odds with other data. "Let's see what happens in the next one [survey]. But it's not going to make the Government change tack."

Despite Government austerity, jobs in Wellington City are holding up, at 273,200 in September, which was better than in June and higher than a year ago.

But there was a rise in the region's jobless rate to 7.1 per cent, as the population grew.

Wellingtonians discuss how tough it is to find a job in the capital:

Elishevah Monrad

The former Burger Fuel Courtenay Place owner has been looking for work in reception or makeup artistry and skincare since April. She previously worked as an assistant manager at Clinique and as a makeup artist. "The job market is Wellington is very competitive with such high unemployment. I've applied for around 100 jobs and only had two interviews," the 34-year-old single mum and Alicetown resident said. "I am on the DPB currently, I was living on savings initially. I'm fortunate to own my home mortgage-free, but we couldn't afford heaters in winter. I've cut back on a lot, but some of it is considered luxury to begin with."

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Cory Smith

A learning and development consultant, he has been searching for permanent work in Wellington for the better part of two years. The 41-year-old, originally from Lower Hutt, returned to Wellington from Brisbane in 2007 and, after a string of fixed-term and contract jobs, began looking for fulltime work early last year. He has been to and from Brisbane since, but wants to find work here. Friends have been letting him stay at their Khandallah home while he gets back on his feet. He has a couple of job prospects that look "promising". "I have been a little surprised by the general negativity of human resources and recruitment people . . . The attitude of employers and recruitment companies [in Australia] is generally more positive towards candidates with strong experience."

Paula Sturgess

Took maternity leave from her office management job at an international security firm in April last year. When she made inquiries about returning to work earlier this year, she learned her role had been disestablished. "I never let it get me down," the keen belly dancer and American football fan says. "I'm applying for a job a day online these days. It's tough times in the job market out there. "I've had four interviews and I'm confident of landing a job. There'll be something out there for me . . . in a service-oriented environment." From 1987-2003 Ms Sturgess, 41, worked for Tranz Metro as a sales co- ordinator and a manager of agency accounts.

- The Dominion Post

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