Rise In Unemployment Unwelcome, But Expected

  • Peter McCardle

The increase in the official unemployment rate of.4 percent, while unwelcome, is not surprising given the slowing of economic growth, and the Asian downturn, the Minister of Employment Peter McCardle said today.

Household Labour Force Survey results for the March 1998 quarter released today show seasonally adjusted unemployment at 7.1 percent, up from 6.7 percent in the December 1997 quarter.

New Zealand like many trading nations has been affected by the Asian decline, which along with the drought in a number of regions, has contributed to the increase, Mr McCardle said.

While these unavoidable realities have contributed to this increase, New Zealand should keep this rise in perspective. Most forecasters are predicting growth to strengthen in the medium future which should help create the number of jobs in the economy.

Today's 7.1 percent result is below the OECD average out of the 21 OECD countries with comparable statistics, he said.

The widely forecast strengthening of economic and related employment growth has been delayed, but the impending tax cuts, the lower New Zealand dollar, the expected easing of interest rates, and the demutualisation of AMP are all expected to facilitate stronger economic growth later this year.

At the same time we will continue to focus particularly on helping the most disadvantaged job seekers, and it is pleasing to see that the numbers over four years for this group have reduced by over 20% in the last year, said Mr McCardle.