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Govt should face the facts not skew the facts

National appears to be actively massaging official unemployment statistics by changing the measure for joblessness to exclude those looking online, says Labour’s Employment spokesperson Grant Robertson.

“The Household Labour Force Survey, released tomorrow, no longer regards people job hunting on websites like Seek or TradeMe as ‘actively looking for work’.

“That means they no longer fit into the unemployed category, meaning tomorrow’s delayed figures will almost certainly show a decrease in unemployment. This new definition saw a revision of the last quarter’s unemployment figures from 5.7 per cent to 5.2 per cent.

“These figures do not mean there is a drop in the number of people looking for work or that unemployment is actually falling. For the many New Zealanders who use the internet to search for work, the Government is telling them they don’t count.

“Bizarrely while cutting out modern forms of job hunting the HLFS still includes outdated methods such as registering at a ‘employment exchange’ or ‘checking at worksites, farms, factory gates, market or other assembly places’ for work.

“These changes are typical of a Government that actively manipulates official data to suit its own ends. I have no doubt National ministers will embrace the massaged figures and continue not to worry about the real people who are out of work.

“Despite the many flaws in the HLFS its biggest strength is that is has been a consistent measure for almost 30 years. National’s recent changes have completely undermined that. It is arrogance of the highest order to simply write thousands of jobless New Zealanders off the books,” says Grant Robertson.