Unemployment fall shows Govt on track

Minister of Employment Willie Jackson has welcomed news that the unemployment rate fell to 4.4% in the March quarter, indicating the Government is on track with its plan to get unemployment down to 4% by 2020.

“This is the lowest unemployment rate in New Zealand since December 2008. Meanwhile, over the March 2018 quarter, the number of people employed rose by 15,000,” Willie Jackson said. 

“Our underutilisation rate also fell, mainly due to previously underemployed people being offered the actual hours they wanted to work. This is a sign of a healthy labour market, in which wages should be rising alongside stronger growth in employment.

“While these numbers are great to see, the figures released today also highlight why it is so important for the Coalition Government to keep implementing our plan to encourage our young people into employment and training.

The rate of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) was 12.4% in the March quarter, below the 12.7% a year ago, but up slightly on the December quarter. This is still too high.

“There are still some real discrepancies that we will address. One in eight young people aged under 25 is not earning or learning, and it’s even higher for those young people with a disability. It’s critical that we address the pathways from education into training and employment as this is where many of our rangatahi are falling through the cracks.

“Given news today that we need to find 50,000 people in trades to meet demand across New Zealand, this Government’s plan to break down the barriers to education and training through our post-secondary fees-free policy will be key to reducing our NEET rates, giving our young people hope and opportunity.

The NEET rate for Māori is 21.4% which is still nearly double that of the general population, something I am committed to addressing.

“Following my announcement that the Government will invest $13 million in youth employment programmes in regions with entrenched unemployment, I have been out and around those regions and can say that the communities are genuinely heartened that this Government has shown up and is investing pūtea into rangatahi who are the future of our economy. Our work doesn’t end there, and we’ll have more to say in Budget 2018 about more help for our rangatahi.

“Our plan will ensure that all New Zealanders benefit from better wages and living conditions through participation in meaningful employment,” Willie Jackson said.