The Prime Minister is blaming Auckland for skewing a national survey which puts unemployment at its highest in 13 years.
Statistics New Zealand released the results of their Household Labour Force Survey this morning, showing 13,000 more unemployed people than three months ago and a total of 175,000 without jobs.
But John Key says the data is at odds with the Government’s own “anecdotal” evidence and says the Government has created 57,000 new jobs over the last 12-18 months.
“They are just very much at odds with everything else that we see,” he says.
“In the end it’s one survey and like a lot of surveys, from time to time, it can produce unusual data.
“It is focussed on Auckland and that runs a little counter to what we’ve actually anecdotally seen in Auckland.”
Mr Key didn’t go so far as to say the numbers were wrong, but said he’d wait until the December statistics are released.
“Goodness knows what the next one will look like.”
Mr Key says the global financial crisis and international trade is playing a part in the economy and that was out of the Government’s control.
“New Zealand is a very small cork in a very big ocean,” he says, adding that he thinks the country is “on the right track”.
Opposition parties react
The Green Party says the figures are shocking and is the “final nail in the coffin” for the Government’s economic credibility.
Co-leader Metiria Turei says under the National Government’s watch, unemployment has increased by a total of 78,000.
She says using a wider measurement of “joblessness”, there are actually 294,900 New Zealanders without a job.
“The National Government has failed New Zealanders; its economic record is in tatters,” said Ms Turei.
Labour’s employment spokesperson Su’a William Sio says the figures are worse for Maori and Pasifika with unemployment rates of around 15 percent for both. The national rate is 7.3 percent.
“The Government has failed to make any attempt to address Māori and Pasifika unemployment and is leaving them to fend for themselves,” he says.
Mr Sio says if Labour were in Government, they would work with industry and business to find new, innovative ways of creating jobs.
Council of Trade Unions Secretary Peter Conway says it’s a national crisis and the Government needs to step in.
“These are not just numbers. They are people and families. They deserve support and the Government needs to give urgent attention to the jobs plight now,” he says.
FIRST Union general secretary Robert Reid says it’s a national disgrace that unemployment figures are so high but said ‘underemployment’ was also an issue.
“Every supermarket or department store that our union visits will have workers actively seeking more hours because their incomes, from working less than 40 hours a week, are not enough to live on,” says Mr Reid.
“National has sat on its hands for too long. It needs to urgently take ownership of the jobs crisis. Sitting back and hoping for the best is not acceptable,” he says.
Survey results are based on a sample of 15,000 households throughout the country.