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Government, opponents at odds over jobs

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/05/2016
Steven Joyce © Getty Steven Joyce

The government is singing there are 28,000 more jobs in the economy but opponents are trying to drown it out with the the rising unemployment rate.

The employment rate rose to 65.1 per cent from 64.9 per cent in the March quarter but the unemployment rate rose three percentage points to 5.7 per cent, according to Statistics New Zealand figures released on Wednesday.

Employment Minister Steven Joyce described it as strong job growth and 28,000 more people working.

"New Zealand is continuing to experience solid growth, more employment and higher wages, along with low inflation," he said.

He also noted the 65.1 per cent employment rate was better than Australia's 61 per cent, 60 per cent in both the UK and US, and 52 per cent across the European Union.

Grant Robertson says he will hold government to account. © Getty Images Grant Robertson says he will hold government to account.

But Labour says there are now 144,000 unemployed New Zealanders, 40,000 more than when National gained power in 2008.

"The government has run out of excuses. It should be delivering by now," said the party's Grant Robertson.

The Greens say the rising unemployment rate and a flatlining 1.6 per cent wage growth illustrate National's economic mismanagement.

"The government keeps saying that good times are just around the corner but actually, for the 144,000 New Zealanders who are looking for a decent job now, those good times never seem to arrive," said co-leader Metiria Turei.

The Council of Trade Unions says last year Treasury was forecasting 5.1 per cent unemployment, or just 128,000 out of work.

There were actually 380,000 people not finding the work they wanted, said secretary Sam Huggard.

"There is plenty more the government can be doing to help create good jobs and well paid jobs."

Metiria Turei © Getty Images Metiria Turei
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