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Unemployment gap widens between races

09:00 AEST Mon Jul 30 2012
Since 2009 the percentage of Polynesians that are unemployed has risen to 14 per cent.
Since 2009 the percentage of Polynesians that are unemployed has risen to 14 per cent.

The gap between the number of Maori and Pacific people who are unemployed compared to Pakeha continues to widen and Polynesians are taking home a smaller pay packet.

The figures are highlighted in the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) latest quarterly Vulnerability Report.

NZCCSS executive officer Trevor McGlinchey told NZ Newswire Maori and Pacific people are employed in mainly labour intensive roles which are usually the first to be axed during a recession.

"You've got Maori whanau and Pacific families who have on the whole lost employment all together," he said.

"We have a situation where the educational and industry training outcomes for Maori and Pacific people are not as good as for the wider population."

New Zealand's unemployment rate rose from five per cent in 2009 to 6.7 per cent in March this year.

Pakeha unemployment is sitting below the national average, at 4.5 per cent compared to 3.3 per cent three years ago.

However, Maori and Pacific unemployment is about 14 per cent, compared to about nine per cent in 2009.

In 2011 Maori had a median weekly income of $460 compared to $500 in 2008, while Pacific income fell from $455 to $390 over the same period.

Pakeha incomes increased but only slightly from $570 to $580.

Mr McGlinchey says there needs to be more of a focus on education and training for young Maori and Pacific people.

"Until that is sorted this is going to be an ongoing problem and of course it's not just a problem for Maori and Pacific people, it's a problem for New Zealand."

The NZCCSS report says demand for food parcels and budgeting services has eased but there is an increased need for housing assistance, counselling and social work services.

The number of people on the unemployment benefit rose 44 per cent from 37,100 in 2009 to 53,500 this year. Those on the sickness benefit rose 14 per cent to 58,400 over the same period.