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Modest fall in unemployment benefit numbers - Govt

Unemployment benefit numbers dropped by almost 500 for the month of April, the Government said today."This is in stark contrast to the same time last year, when the number of people on the unemployment benefit actually increased by 4200," Social

NZPA
Fri, 07 May 2010

Unemployment benefit numbers dropped by almost 500 for the month of April, the Government said today.

"This is in stark contrast to the same time last year, when the number of people on the unemployment benefit actually increased by 4200," Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said.

Maori accounted for three-quarters of the fall, she said.

In April, 4654 people cancelled the unemployment benefit and went into work -- 1346 of them Maori, and 346 Pacific Islanders.

Work and Income listed 4500 new jobs in April, Ms Bennett said.

Numbers aged between 18 and 24 on a benefit fell by 379 in the last month, while overall benefit figures rose by less than 1 percent (0.8 percent) to 327,462.

There were now 59,715 on the unemployment benefit.

Ms Bennett said she'd like to see a few more quarters of job growth before getting "too excited" about statistics showing unemployment has dropped to 6 percent.

The Household Labour Force Survey yesterday showed the number of unemployed dropped by 25,000 during the March quarter.

Ms Bennett told reporters yesterday, after the latest survey was released, that there were other encouraging signs as well.

"We've been seeing it in what has come in as business confidence, we've been hearing about more jobs in manufacturing and seeing it through Work and Income," she said.

"But the reality is...you get a bit nervous about predicting that sort of drop -- I'd like to see a few more quarters like that before we start getting too excited."

Prime Minister John Key was cautiously optimistic.

"I think it's very pleasing news because it means more New Zealanders are back in work," he said.

"I would hasten to add I think there is always volatility in the Household Labour Force Survey numbers, and so it may well be the 7.3 percent number (last quarter's rate, later adjusted to 7.1 percent) was a bit high, and it could well be that the 6 percent number technically is a bit low."

The Auckland Chamber of Commerce said businesses must ensure they can sustain their recovery as the market for skills tightened.

Michael Barnett, chief executive of the chamber, said its surveys over recent quarters have shown more and more businesses were having difficulties recruiting staff.

"While businesses have proven their resilience over the last 18 months, if they cannot recruit people with the right skills then they have less prospect of being able to expand and grow. Without business growth, the economy and New Zealand's prospects go nowhere."

NZPA
Fri, 07 May 2010
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Modest fall in unemployment benefit numbers - Govt
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