6 Nov 2009

More jobs? Not for a while yet, say employers

6:16 am on 6 November 2009

The Employers and Manufacturers Association says it'll be at least the second half of next year before employment in its sector begins climbing again.

Statistics New Zealand announced earlier on Thursday that the general unemployment rate rose by half a percentage point in the September quarter, pushing it to a nine-year high of 6.5%.

Manufacturing is the sector most affected, with employment declining 10% since September last year.

Association spokesperson Bruce Goldsworthy says job losses in the industry have stabilised but it's an ageing workforce that is employing very few young people.

The ASB bank's chief economist, Nick Tuffley, says employers are starting to feel more confident, which should translate into more jobs from early next year.

He says, however, that the number of new graduates and immigrants seeking work should push the jobless rate to more than 7% later in 2010.

Slight drop in number on unemployment benefit

The latest rise in the rate has been driven largely by the number of men losing their jobs - an increase of 9000 - although the number of women out of work also rose by 3000.

There are now significantly fewer jobs in the manufacturing, retail, accommodation and construction industries.

The statistics show, though, that the number of people on the unemployment benefit fell slightly from 60,600 in September to 59,955 in October.

Social Development and Employment Minister Paula Bennett says that government initiatives aimed at getting young people into work, coupled with the addition of 300 more frontline staff at Work & Income, have made a difference.

Plans for helping students during summer

Ms Bennett adds, however, that it's too soon to say if the country is through the worst. She says the number of people on the unemployment benefit will rise again, particularly as students join the job market during summer .

An announcement will be made in the next two weeks regarding ideas for getting students employed over the summer break.

Ms Bennett says the Government is also looking at options for a programme that subsidises young people to work on community projects for six months.

Gap with Australia will widen - Labour

The Labour Party says the income gap between New Zealand and Australia is going to widen further because not enough investment is being made in jobs.

Labour deputy leader Annette King says the Government has done little to combat unemployment, whereas Australia has invested heavily in education, apprenticeships, on-going training and research and development aimed at getting the country ready for economic recovery.

Ms King says the Government only has a few "little programmes that fiddle around the edges".