So, in the week to October 2, 1950 people signed up to the dole and 2040 went off it. Time to celebrate according to Paula Bennett – unemployment’s going down! But one thing we know about Bennett is she doesn’t have a good grasp of detail – in fact, she has to have everything reduced to graphs and pictures by the officials so she can understand. Which means that Paula has missed a couple of important things.
– Not everyone who went off the dole went into work. Bennett hasn’t released the details but a lot of people move from one benefit to another for whatever reason (eg from unemployment to DPB). It’s telling that the press release says the number of unemployment benefit cancellations exceeded the number of new sign-ups. If it had been the number of people going off the dole into work was greater than new sign-ups, they would have said so.
– Not everyone who is unemployed gets the dole. 31,000 more people went on the dole between March 2007 and June 2009, but 53,000 became unemployed in that period. Less than half of all unemployed people get the dole. So a minor drop in the number on the dole in one week, does not necessarily mean unemployment fell that week.
It’s great if the rise of unemployment is easing but Bennett’s tedious self-congratulation is unwarranted. Unemployment is going to continue rising for some time – large lay-offs have stopped for now, but the high dollar is a real threat to jobs. Even when it peaks, we’ll have 60-80,000 more unemployed Kiwis with all the economic and social consequences for their families that entails, as well as cost to the government.
When we’re back below 4% unemployment, then it will be time for the champagne.