Aucklanders and Pacific Island community yet to feel real benefit
New Zealand's recovery from recession was resoundingly confirmed yesterday with the biggest quarterly fall in unemployment ever recorded, but the strength of the improvement is yet to be enjoyed by Auckland's jobless or the Pacific Island community.
The number of jobless fell by 25,000 to 140,000 in the three months to March, which translates to a drop in the unemployment rate from 7.1 per cent to 6 per cent.
While economists were impressed with the fall, the biggest quarterly decline since the current measure was adopted in 1986, they warned the data tended to bounce around.
Nevertheless, it showed the recovery was firmly on track making it likely the Reserve Bank will start raising interest rates from next month.
Prime Minister John Key also acknowledged the volatility of the data, "But what we do know is that the trend is going in the right direction - unemployment is falling."
Labour Deputy Leader Annette King said the fall was "great news" but sounded a cautious note.
"One swallow doesn't make a summer. These unemployment figures still don't take us back to where we were in September last year."
The unemployment rate among young workers who were hit particularly hard during the recession and global financial crisis showed some improvement although the 1.3 per cent drop to 25.2 per cent among 15 to 19-year-olds was well within the margin of error.
However the numbers suggest there was barely anything to celebrate for the Auckland region where the unemployment rate fell just one tenth of a percentage point from 8 to 7.9 per cent, although that figure had a margin of error of 0.9 per cent.
Unemployment continued to rise in Northland, Bay of Plenty, Manawatu-Wanganui and the Tasman/Nelson Marlborough/West Coast and Otago regions.
But the news was worst for Pacific Islanders whose unemployment rate rose from 14 to 14.4 per cent.
With 13,300 now out of work, "questions need to be asked as to why Pacific Islanders are not sharing in the recovery," said Labour's Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Luamanuvao Winnie Laban.
Social Development, Employment and Youth Minister Paula Bennett acknowledged the high level of unemployment among Pacific Island people and Maori and that it was an area requiring attention.
* March 6%
* December 7.1%
* March 7.9%
* December 8.0%
* March 9.4%
* December 9.2%
* March 14.2%
* December 15.2%
* March 14.4%
* December 14%