New figures showing a modest improvement in unemployment will offer little solace for record numbers of New Zealanders out of work, the Green Party said today.
The Household Labour Force Survey statistics released this morning by Statistics New Zealand show that the unemployment rate fell to 6.9 percent for the December 2012 quarter, while the employment rate fell 0.8 percentage points, to 62.6 percent. 10,000 fewer people are now unemployed while 23,000 people left the labour market altogether. The employment rate is now at the lowest level in over 10 years.
"The slight fall of unemployment from record levels is little to get excited about given that 163,000 real people remain without jobs and are struggling to get by," Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said.
"Behind these numbers hide the faces of our economic failure.
"Today’s near record unemployment numbers also signal the failure of this National Government to manage our economy effectively. Relative to the rest of the OECD, our economy is performing poorly.
"Most other OECD countries have been managing the global financial crisis better than our own."
Parliamentary Library research commissioned by the Green Party shows that the New Zealand economy has performed relatively worse than the majority of countries in the OECD since 2009 - the peak of the global financial crisis. The data shows New Zealand ranked 22nd for growth in unemployment, 30th for the size of the current account deficit, 28th for growth in national savings, and 23rd for government debt.
"National has handled the global downturn poorly causing unnecessary pain and suffering throughout the country," said Dr Norman.
"The 200 newly out-of-work Oamaru mill workers will find it difficult to find new jobs in the current environment of high unemployment especially as manufacturers are closing up shop due to the high New Zealand dollar.
"The Oamaru mill was founded in 1881 and has survived eight economic recessions and two depressions - including the Great Depression - but couldn’t survive the current economic settings under this National Government.
"Something major has to change with National’s economic approach because it’s simply failing workers and the families who depend on them for their livelihoods."
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