Unemployment drop no cause for celebration

News that unemployment has fallen from 4.9 per cent to 4.7 per cent will provide no comfort for the almost 200,000 New Zealanders on the Jobseeker benefit, National’s Social Development and Employment spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“While it’s positive the unemployment figure has decreased, albeit slightly, this doesn’t change the fact more than 75,000 people have moved onto the Jobseeker benefit since this Government took over.

“That is 75,000 more people and almost 200,000 New Zealanders overall who have no job to support themselves or their families. The more than $40 million being spent on hardship grants each month in 2021 shows many Kiwis are struggling to make ends meet.

“The best way to support people out of hardship is through paid employment. That is why it’s disappointing that whether it be the shovel-ready projects, the Māori Trades and Training Initiative or the extension of Flexi-Wage, the Government has failed to deliver the jobs it promised its initiatives would create.

“It’s important to note the unemployment figure is generated from a survey. The income support through benefits and hardship grants are an actual measure of people who depend on the Government for financial support.

“Today is no cause for celebration. The Government needs to start delivering on the jobs plan the Prime Minister promised New Zealanders before the election.

“If the Government’s employment schemes do not deliver jobs sooner, we risk more people relying on welfare to live day to day and squandering their potential.”