New Zealanders are in paid work in record numbers and wages are outpacing inflation as the Government’s economic plan continues to deliver more jobs and growing wages to help with cost of living pressures, Grant Robertson said.
“This is a positive result and shows we continue to be in a position of strength to face the challenges ahead, with the economy adding 22,000 jobs in the first three months of the year and average hourly wage wages rising 7.6 percent to $38.93, ahead of inflation at 6.7 percent.
Stats NZ reported that unemployment was unchanged at 3.4 percent in the March quarter.
“We’ve created 281,000 jobs since 2017, the unemployment rate is near record lows and wages are growing. This is the best response to New Zealanders dealing with cost of living pressures.
“The Government’s economic plan is working to ensure New Zealanders get ahead, by delivering more better-paying high quality jobs, growing wages and more opportunities. Kiwis are also getting some relief with inflation now moderating, though it remains too high. We are doing our bit to restrain spending and responsibly manage our finances.
“We are continuing to work hard to lower costs for Kiwis and make our economy stronger now and for the long term, with investments in skills, infrastructure and innovation.
“The Government has taken action to further support hard working New Zealanders doing it tough. We’ve lifted the incomes of over 1.4 million New Zealanders, including seniors, families, workers and students. The Winter Energy Payment has now kicked in for over a million people to provide cost of living relief for electricity bills for. We’ve extended the fuel tax cuts and half price public transport and made childcare more affordable to more families. The cost of living will be a major focus in the Budget later this month.
“We are investing in building the productive capacity of the economy. Apprenticeships are more than 50 percent higher than when we took office. Total spending on research and development hit record levels last year. Infrastructure spending will top $60 billion over the next five years, even before the cyclone is taken into account,” Grant Robertson said.
“More young people are engaged in employment, education and training, with a fall in the NEET rate from 11.1 percent to 10.3 percent,” Carmel Sepuloni said.
“This reflects our focus on getting young people ready for work through such programmes such as Apprenticeship Boost, Mana in Mahi and He Poutama Rangatahi.
“While Maori unemployment has increased, it reflects a large number of Maori who have entered the labour force. Most of them have found work, with 14,700 more Maori in jobs. In contrast, the Pacific unemployment rate has continued to fall, while there has been a big jump in the Pacific employment rate to 65.5 percent. Overall, it shows our interventions are working,” Carmel Sepuloni said.
On comparable measures, New Zealand’s 3.4 percent unemployment rate stands favourably against 3.6 percent in Australia, 3.5 percent in the US, 3.8 percent in the UK, and 5 percent in Canada. The OECD average is 4.8 percent.
“We know there is more to do. We will continue to invest heavily in skills and training for New Zealanders. Our immigration settings are attracting a significant number of overseas workers and we will continue to look at ways to respond to help fill vacancies in what is a competitive global market for workers.” Grant Robertson said.
“Our focus will continue to be on keeping on moving the economy in the right direction. We recognise that unemployment is likely to move around in what is a challenging global environment. We will continue investing in creating the conditions to support people into work and drive higher wages for New Zealanders and build a stronger, inclusive and more resilient economy.”