Opposition: Govt 'out of ideas' as jobless rate rises

  • 04/11/2015
Finance Minister Bill English (Simon Wong)
Finance Minister Bill English (Simon Wong)

Opposition parties have seized on a rise in the unemployment rate to accuse the Government of running out of ideas.

But Finance Minister Bill English says he is happy enough with where the economy is heading and isn't worrying about one figure.

New Zealand's jobless rate rose in the third quarter from 5.9 percent to 6 percent as employment unexpectedly fell, according to figures released today.

"Today's figures are a damning indictment of National. For the first time since 2012 the number of people in work has fallen by 11,000," said Labour's Grant Robertson.

"The 151,000 people out of work are a symbol of seven long years of wasted opportunities."

In the last few years growth was fuelled by dairy prices, the Christchurch rebuild, Auckland's housing bubble and record migration.

"When growth was high National should have looked for opportunities to diversify the economy and direct investment into productive sectors."

The Greens say the Government has watched the unemployment rate rise from 4.6 percent, when it came to power, to 6 percent.

"Relying on the Christchurch rebuild, immigration, dairy intensification and extractive industries, was never going to get New Zealanders back into work," said co-leader James Shaw.

The Government needed to clean up rivers, expand forestry, revamp cold and damp houses, install more solar power and invest in public transport to help diversify the economy, he said.

"National praying for a dairy price increase or a big oil strike somewhere will only continue its woeful record of high unemployment."

Mr English blamed a slowing economy - dairy prices dropping and a flattening off of the Christchurch rebuild - for making the labour market "a bit slower".

However, he said he was confident about where there economy was going over the next 12 to 18 months.