During the coronavirus pandemic, reports showing unemployment in New Zealand had fallen and generated surprise and strong scepticism from economists.
On Wednesday, the statistics agency Statistics New Zealand posted an eye-popping 4 percent unemployment figure for the three months up to the end of June, down from 4.2 percent last quarter – before coronavirus restrictions took effect.
Treasury estimated that the June average will be 8.3 per cent in the May budget. New Zealand ‘s government instituted one of the world’s strictest Covid-19 shutdowns at the end of March; reforms smoothed out between late April and early June.
The lockdown is credited with quelling the virus spread; there is no known widespread transmission in the region, and life has returned to normal except for strict border controls.
The critics of the government had said the closure on the jobless rate would take too high a toll. Yet the finance minister, Grant Robertson, said the statistics demonstrated the “economic robustness” and were a vindication of the measures.
“Being able to reopen our economy sooner has saved jobs,” he said. “It is proof that getting on top of the virus is the best thing we can do for our economy.”
“Today’s unemployment figures don’t tell the full story of the jobs crisis we’re in as a country and are masked by the 452,425 people on wage subsidies,” he said.
“With wage subsidies set to wind down from 1 September, the real cost of this economic downturn will be felt then.”
“Covid-19 has left tens of thousands more people working less hours than they want, resulting in less stable incomes and more uncertainty for families,” said Green party leader Marama Davidson.