Jobs not there for capital workers

ALEX FENSOME
Last updated 05:00 08/02/2013

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Joblessness in the capital is at an 18-year high, as Wellingtonians continue to struggle to find work.

Statistics New Zealand figures, taken from the household labour force survey, show there are 22,600 unemployed people in Wellington.

The number of people in work has fallen from 273,200 in September to 262,600 in December. The number of people not in the workforce - neither working nor looking for a job - has also risen.

Wellington regional unemployment rose to 7.9 per cent in the past quarter, from 7.1 per cent in the previous quarter. The national rate is 6.9 per cent.

Kelly Gordon, a design graduate with two diplomas, said he had been looking for a job for eight months.

"Everyone wants to do [design] and there are only so many [jobs] out there," he said.

"I feel quite qualified in it; I've had multiple interviews. I've got one this afternoon, so I hope it goes well."

He was willing to look in other industries for work but worried about his lack of experience.

"Hospitality [has] that job market in Wellington, with a high turnover.

"But I've only done basic hospitality."

Newlands man Frank Leutogi, the security guard at the Work and Income office in central Wellington, sees jobless people every day.

Some applied for 50 jobs without success, he said - and now his own family has been hit by redundancy. His wife has just lost her job at a Newtown liquor store.

Their two children are old enough to work but earn low incomes, so Mr Leutogi will be the sole breadwinner.

"We relied on both of us to bring in money," he said. "I will try [to support the family]. I'm not on a high salary . . . but I'll try."

Federation of Family Budgeting Services chief executive Raewyn Fox said its 160 members were seeing an increase in middle-income families suddenly hit by financial hardship.

Families with both parents earning $40,000-$50,000 a year might see one lose their job and be unable to meet their commitments, she said.

"Often they're just over the level where they don't get any assistance from government or anywhere else.

"We didn't used to get any [using budget services] but now we're starting to get them. It's still only a small percentage but it is increasing."

Anecdotally, the period around last Christmas, moving into this month, was the busiest many of the services had ever seen, she said.

Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy said the city continued to be affected by Government cuts to the civil service.

However, he believed confidence was returning to the economy and this would flow on to jobs. Upper Hutt had started to see increased consents and building activity, he said.

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Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace said some long-established Hutt Valley businesses, such as the Goulds meat processing plant that closed in August last year, had been hit by the worldwide recession.

However, he felt there were developments in Lower Hutt that would bring in jobs, particularly the Technology Valley initiative, which encouraged investment in science and technology business in the area.

- The Dominion Post

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