• Wyatt Creech

Labour force participation rates are at an all-time high and employment is continuing to grow, Minister of Employment, Wyatt Creech, said today.

The latest figures from the Household Labour Force survey show that more people than ever are entering the labour force. At 66.4% participation equals the highest ever, recorded in early 1987. Not only are there more people in the working age population, but a lot more of them are recognising opportunities and making themselves available for work.

Im also pleased to see that, despite some predictions to the contrary, employment is continuing to grow. Its increased by 0.8% or 14,000 people over this quarter alone, and by 61,000 people (3.7%) over the year.

Mr Creech acknowledged that the unemployment rate has risen slightly to 6.3 percent this quarter.

But it puts it a little more in perspective when you realise that the working age population has increased by 43, 300 people over the year, and long-term unemployment has fallen substantially. There are new people continually entering the employment market, but theyre usually not remaining unemployed. Our unemployment rate still puts us at 6th in the OECD, and lower than their average.

Long-term unemployment - those unemployed 6 months or longer - has fallen by 5.3 percent over the year to 37,800. In contrast, in September 1994 there were 61,800 long-term unemployed.

Theres substantial growth in part-time jobs in areas like retail, hospitality, services and construction work said Mr Creech.

Part-time jobs tend to suit many of the new people entering the labour market. Part-time work also offers a good opportunity for people who have been out of work for a long time to ease back into work habits and learn new skills. Many of them later move into full-time employment.

Adjustments we have made to benefit abatement rates and stand down periods mean people will find it easier to take on work said Mr Creech.