The Coalition Government’s economic plan is delivering jobs and higher wages for New Zealanders, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says.
The unemployment rate today fell to an 11-year low of 3.9 per cent. The number of people in employment increased by more than 21,000 over the three months to June 20, and annual wage growth hit a decade-high of 4.4 per cent.
“This is a tick of approval for the Coalition Government’s economic plan and responsible management of the economy,” says Grant.
“Our plan focusses on making sure all New Zealanders share in our economic success, while transitioning the economy to more productive and sustainable growth that will lift the living standards of everyone.
“The work we’re doing on the economy is supporting sustainable growth and providing a buffer against the volatile global situation. Only last night we saw another escalation in the US-China trade war, while Brexit continues to add uncertainty.
“We cannot get complacent in the face of slowing global economic growth, and these indicators will move around a bit. But, in New Zealand, we are running a surplus, have decade-low unemployment, and rising wages. Our growth rates are higher than the countries we compare ourselves to, like Australia, the UK, the EU, Canada and the US.
“Our careful management of the Government’s books has allowed us to make a record $1.2 billion investment in a school property building programme through the Wellbeing Budget, a $1.7 billion investment to fix our hospitals and mental health facilities, and major investments in KiwiRail, the Provincial Growth Fund and transport infrastructure.
“We are also focussing on helping employers find skilled workers through regional skills shortage lists, and by training our young people through schemes like Mana in Mahi, He Poutama Rangatahi and Fees-free.
“Wages are also starting to rise as a result of the Government’s policies, meaning more New Zealanders are sharing in the benefits of economic growth. Figures today show average ordinary time hourly earnings of $32.27 were up 4.4 per cent from a year ago, its biggest rise since June 2009,” says Grant.
Minister for employment, Willie Jackson says the government’s targeted investment and focus on employment outcomes is paying dividends by delivering the lowest unemployment rate in over a decade for Maori.
“Successive governments have always focused on the general unemployment rate while I’ve always maintained that there is a story within that headline figure that was desperately needed action on.
“So I am particularly pleased to see the unemployment rate for Maori at the lowest it’s been in over a decade at 7.7 per cent. As well as this, the rate for young people not earning or learning continues to trend downwards.
“There has been significant investment in skills and employment programmes since this government took office, with initiatives such as He Poutama Rangatahi and Mana in Mahi, delivering much needed and overdue opportunities for our young people, Maori, Pasifika and regional New Zealanders.
“These outcomes represent real people, real whanau and real communities who are seeing a difference in their lives, something we should all celebrate.
“It is my intention to continue to deliver programmes that will enable all members of our communities to participate and contribute to their local economy through dignified work.
“While I’m pleased to see the results today, it reinforces the continued need to work alongside employers to maintain the momentum created,” says Willie.