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Jobless drop is bucking the trend

LAURA BASHAM
Last updated 13:00 09/11/2012

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The top of the south is bucking the grim national increase in unemployment.

The Nelson, Tasman, Marlborough and West Coast regions' unemployment rate has progressively dropped this year, says the Household Labour Force Survey.

While the national unemployment rate is now at a 13-year high of 7.3 per cent, which is 175,000 people unemployed, in the top of the south regions it is now 4.5 per cent.

In Nelson, Tasman, Marlborough and West Coast the unemployment rate has fallen from 5.9 in March, to 4.7 in June and to 4.5 per cent in September. However, that is up on last September, when it was 3.9 per cent.

Ministry of Social Development regional commissioner Lynne Williams said the latest unemployment statistics show that across the Nelson-Tasman region, the number of people receiving the dole fell by 11 per cent in the year to September.

There were also other promising signs, such as an increase in the number of new building consents that were issued by Nelson and Tasman councils over the past year.

The number of vacancies listed with Work and Income in the Nelson region had also increased and Work and Income saw more people placed into jobs in October and up to November 7, compared to the same time last year.

"Traditionally, this is the time of year when we do start to see more demand for employees in retail, hospitality and seasonal sectors and so far the statistics are showing that this is the case," said Ms Williams.

"Anecdotally we understand the recovery is patchy and that some industries are facing particular difficulties; however Work and Income continues to maintain a strong focus on helping people into work."

In Nelson, the job market is being described as tight, and students are about to swell the number of jobseekers.

At NMIT, students are on study leave and will have exams over the next two weeks, but Students Association president Scott Tambisari said they were already desperately hunting for summer jobs.

This week about 20 had come into the student association's office wanting to hear of any jobs. As soon as one came in, such as a lawn mowing job at a golf course last week, it was snapped up, he said.

"Students will take anything," he said.

Work and Income beneficiaries advocate Kay Brereton questioned why the Government was allowing overseas workers to come in under the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme when unemployment was so high.

Ms Brereton, who has moved from Wellington to Motueka and is looking for more paid work, including orchard work, said it was a shame in the current climate that more New Zealanders were not being employed ahead of migrant labour.

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In the Nelson-Tasman district, close to 900 Pacific Island workers are usually employed during the peak season harvest.

Ms Brereton does not believe the job market is about to improve.

"It looks to me like it is still contracting. Rural areas are being hit pretty hard and with transport costs it's even quite expensive going looking for work."

The rise in unemployment also comes with a trend of workers moving to Australia in search of better paid jobs, with more than 900 from Nelson and Tasman joining the exodus in the past year.

Prime Minister John Key said the jobless figures were at odds with other data.

"Let's see what happens in the next one. But it's not going to make the Government change tack."

JOB MARKET

Nelson, Tasman, Marlborough, West Coast regions: Unemployment rate 4.5 per cent, 4400 unemployed workers National: Unemployment 7.3 per cent, 175,000 unemployed Source: Household Labour Force Survey

- The Nelson Mail

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