Jobless figures leave no room for complacency

Unemployment figures out today show there is no room for complacency when it comes to long-term job creation, Labour’s Employment, Skills and Training spokesperson Grant Robertson says.

 “No Government should be popping the champagne corks when there are 137,000 people out of work – 32,000 more than in 2008 when National came to power.

“At the same time dairy prices have hit their lowest level in two years, setting the scene for a slump in one of the economy’s biggest drivers. The National Government’s idea of economic development has been surfing the wave of commodity prices.  Today’s news shows the danger of that, and the importance of Labour’s Economic Upgrade to diversify our exports.

 “Along with commodity prices it is once again Christchurch – with the rebuild work – that is skewing the figures with a regional unemployment rate of 2.8 per cent. Disaster recovery is not an economic plan. Excluding Canterbury the overall figure rises to around 6 per cent.

 “Many New Zealanders are not seeing the benefit of the supposed improvement in the economy.  Average weekly earnings have actually decreased in the last quarter, and 43 per cent of wage earners have not seen a pay rise in the last year.

 “We need a shift in gear to ensure that the focus of our economy is getting New Zealanders into decent jobs with higher wages. Labour has set a target of target of 4 per cent unemployment by the end of our first term in government.

“The news that one in five 15 to 19-year-olds are unemployed on today’s figures shows the long term risk to the New Zealand economy.

 “Labour is committed to making sure the thousands of under 20-year-olds not in education training or work are either earning or learning, with schemes such as Kick Start Apprenticeships, more trade training places, an expansion of the successful Gateway programme and the re-launch of the Conservation Corps.

 “Now is not the time to sit back and be complacent, now is the time for a Labour-led Government that will get alongside New Zealanders and ensure that work and people are at the centre of our economy,” Grant Robertson said.