Govt says population rise behind high unemployment
12:30 PM Thursday Feb 4, 2010

The Government says a leap in the population is behind unemployment levels reaching their highest level since 1999.

The Household Labour Force Survey said the number of unemployed people rose to 168,000 during the December 2009 quarter, taking the unemployment rate to 7.3 per cent, its highest level since June 1999.

The jump in the unemployment rate was largely due to an increase in the number of people entering the labour force but who were unable to find work.

The number of unemployed 15 to 24-year-olds rose by 6.4 percentage points to 18.4 per cent.

The unemployment rate for Maori reached 15.4 per cent during the quarter compared with 4.6 per cent for European.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett pointed to an increase of 14,500 people in the working age population.

"There are simply more people joining the workforce, which is outstripping job growth," said Bennett.

More here.