New Zealand is joining the world unemployment crisis, with
9000 more people out of work, bumping the total jobless to
The national rate is rising sharply at 6.7%.
Analysts called the rise in unemployment "alarming" and a
"jobs massacre", on reviewing the household labour force
survey released yesterday by Statistics New Zealand (SNZ),
covering the quarter to March.
The impacts of "austerity measures", usually attributed to
European countries slashing government spending, are now
creeping into analysts' jargon in New Zealand.
In the US, expectations of 175,000 new private-sector jobs
during April delivered just 119,000, while across the 17
euro-currency countries, unemployment rose by 169,000 in
March, creating a record 10.9% unemployment rate.
Spain is staggering under 24% national unemployment and 51%
of people under 25 are jobless.
While New Zealand's data said 9000 more people became
employed, apparently offsetting the 9000 added to the
unemployment figures, the unemployment rate rose 0.3% to 6.7%
because of more people in "participation" registering as
looking for work.
ASB economist Jane Turner said the decline in employment
outside Canterbury suggested the underlying recovery was
"An outsized increase in the participation rate saw the
unemployment rate rise sharply to 6.7%, from a previously
revised 6.4%," she said in a statement yesterday.
She said recent declines in hours worked coincided with a
fall in full-time employment, with corresponding increase in
"This suggests that activity may be underperforming
businesses' expectations, and has resulted in reducing staff
hours," Ms Turner said.
Council of Trade Unions secretary Peter Conway highlighted an
increase of almost 50% of people unemployed for more than
year, from 12,800 a year ago to 19,100, and said a quarter of
all those jobless had been so for more than six months.
"Jobs available are just not increasing fast enough to keep
up with people needing jobs," he said in a statement
First Union general secretary Robert Reid was scathing of
government efforts, highlighting 100 job losses in the
textile and carpet industry, including 51 in Oamaru, and
Dunedin City Council-owned City Forests' closure of its
Milburn plant last week, with 31 job losses.
The Government itself was contributing to job losses, laying
off hundreds of public servants.
"These austerity policies are a recipe for disaster and we
fear a job massacre will continue through winter," Mr Reid
said in a statement.
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Steven
Joyce countered that the Government was working hard to
create opportunities for businesses.
This work included the expansion of intensive agriculture,
aquaculture development, backing the hi-tech industry,
supporting the film industry, expanding oil and gas
exploration, encouraging foreign investment, and progressing
an international convention centre in Auckland.
"We are also investing billions of dollars into critical
infrastructure across New Zealand such as the rollout of
ultra-fast broadband, more roading and rail, and upgrading
the electricity grid," he said.
The SNZ data continued to reflect the challenging job market
as New Zealand dealt with the impact of the global financial
crisis and Canterbury earthquakes.
"Despite these challenges, over the past year, 20,000 jobs
have been created and the number on the unemployment benefit
has fallen by 6500," Mr Joyce said in a statement.
- Additional reporting AAP, Reuters