Naki dole queue falls

JAMES WEIR
Last updated 11:18 08/11/2012

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Taranaki has bucked the national trend, with its unemployment rate falling by 0.4 per cent over the past year.

The Household Labour Force Survey results were released by Statistics New Zealand today and show the highest rate of unemployment in the country since early 1999.

Unemployment raced up sharply to 7.3 per cent in the three months to September 30, up from 6.8 per cent in the June quarter, mainly hitting Maori.

Unemployment in Taranaki jumped by 1 per cent in the quarter to September, from 3.8 per cent to 4.8. But it was down from 5.2 per cent recorded in September 2011. The number of unemployed people in Taranaki for the September quarter was 3200.

Taranaki employment rates have risen in the past year up from 65.5 per cent in September 2011 to 66.5 per cent in the 2012 September quarter.

Overall, the number of unemployed around the country 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.

Some bank economists 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.

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 per cent 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 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.

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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.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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