By Political Editor Ducan Garner
It's difficult getting a job these days. Unemployment spiked in winter when 13,000 more people were out of work. Is this a blip or something more serious?
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bill English says he thinks it’s a “slow patch”.
“You could call it a blip,” he says. “There are slow patches but we are on track for 2 to 3 percent growth.”
But Labour leader David Shearer disagrees.
“It's something more serious, there is an underlying problem with our economy.”
This week's indicators are worrying – unemployment is up half a percent to 7.3 percent, 300,000 people are either unemployed or wanting more hours, and the Government's books are $449 million worse off than predicted after a slump in tax revenue.
Yesterday we asked Mr English how many of the 170,000 jobs over four years have been created. He couldn't answer. But today he admitted that the Government is not on target.
“In the past two years, [there are] 26,000 people in new jobs, but in the last quarter no new jobs – which is why we want to crack on,” he says. “We are behind the 170,000 track.”
Some economists say another 25,000 workers could be unemployed by next year.
“Our modelling puts the unemployment rate at 8 percent by March next year,” says BERL economist Ganesh Nana. Mr Nana thinks the Government must change tack.
“You have a seven in front of unemployment, you have a five in front of dairy forecast payout, a zero in front of inflation and export growth – how many warning signs do you need on the dashboard until you do something different?”
Mr English isn’t convinced.
“We think we have the balance about right,” he says.
But jobs and job security are fundamental. Quips about 'gay' red tops, David Beckham and what the Prime Minister knew or didn't know about Kim Dotcom are insignificant when compared with a strong economy. If the poor numbers continue, National's in trouble.