20 Oct 2009

Number of long-term unemployed rising

3:55 pm on 20 October 2009

The proportion of people on the unemployment benefit for a year or more has risen for the first time in more than two years.

Some 12.3% have been claiming the benefit for a year or more.

The proportion of unemployed people on the dole for a year or more was 37% two years ago.

The figure fell to 11.1% at the end of the June quarter but new Ministry of Social Development figures show they rose again in the latest quarter.

Radio New Zealand's economics correspondent says overall, numbers on the dole for a year or more rose from 5,600 to more than 8,000 during the three-month period.

The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research warns that long-term unemployed unable to find jobs because of reduced skills, could hamstring the recovery.

The Council of Trade Unions says younger people are finding it particularly hard to get into work.

CTU economist Bill Rosenberg says employer subsidies for taking on young workers introduced earlier this year need to be extended.

Business New Zealand says this should be done carefully and with regard to the state of the Government's books.

But Mr Rosenberg says the Government's finances are in good shape relative to other countries and it can afford to take on slightly more debt to protect the economy from worse later.