Covid-19 spurs worst unemployment figure in NZ since records began, but Government upbeat

Source: 1News

The number of people without a job in New Zealand has risen by almost a third due to the effects of Covid-19, Statistics New Zealand says.

According to numbers released today, the seasonally-adjusted number of unemployed people rose by 37,000 to reach 151,000 in the September 2020 quarter.

The latest number puts New Zealand's total unemployment rate at 5.3 per cent - up 1.3 percentage points from 4 per cent in the previous quarter.

The rise in unemployment is the largest quarterly rise since the statistic began to be recorded in 1986, with the next highest being a rise of 18,000 people in the June 2009 quarter during the global financial crisis.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson painted a rosy picture of the numbers, saying they were "better than expected".

The 5.3 per cent figure was below Treasury's forecast of 9.8 per cent in the Budget, and also below the 6.4 per cent forecast in the Pre-Election Update.

"The unemployment data today shows the Government's decision to focus the Covid-19 recovery and rebuild plan on jobs is working.

"This is still a difficult time for many New Zealanders, and we are working hard alongside them to create new work and training opportunities.

"The new Government has a mandate from New Zealanders to accelerate our plan, and we're getting on with the job, including by fast-tracking infrastructure investment through the RMA like the Northland water storage project announced last week.

"There will still be challenges thrown up by Covid-19 - the world is facing a 1-in-100 year economic shock due to Covid-19, and New Zealand won’t be immune.

"New lockdowns across Europe, and record new Covid cases in other parts of the world are putting a strain on the global economy.

"In Australia, the unemployment rate is 6.9 per cent, in the US it's 8.8 per cent and in Canada 10 per cent - the OECD average is 7.4 per cent.

"The world will continue to feel the ongoing impacts of the worst economic shock since the Great Depression, and we have a strong plan in place here in New Zealand to cushion the blow and invest in the recovery.

"We recognise that today's employment statistics show that the economic impact of Covid-19 is falling disproportionately on women, Maori and Pacific peoples.

"I will be working closely with the ministers in these areas to make sure there is an inclusive recovery and rebuild.

"Our economic plan invests in supporting people to retrain through free apprenticeships, connecting jobseekers with employers, supporting industries with female-dominated workforces, and a real focus on our rangatahi through initiatives like Mana in Mahi."