The relatively flat 6.6 per cent unemployment rate in September underlines the importance of the Government continuing with strong and stable economic management.

Unemployment peaked in 2009 and is gradually coming down. And it is good to see an extra 63,000 jobs were created in the past two years, despite challenges from the Canterbury earthquakes and the global financial crisis.

The Government’s economic plan is working – we’re on track to get back to budget surplus in 2014/15 and start repaying debt, we’re investing in productive infrastructure, ensuring a more efficient public sector and removing costs and roadblocks on business.  All of these things will help support jobs.

In a volatile global environment, with unemployment rates of 9.1 per cent in the United States and 7.9 per cent in the UK, New Zealand is holding its own.

Employment increased by 5,000 in the September quarter and more people are looking for work, demonstrating confidence in the labour market.  The number of New Zealanders in employment remains about 20,000 ahead of Budget 2011 projections.

In addition, the total hours worked rose 2.5 per cent in the last six months – the strongest rise since 2005.  We’ve seen the much-quoted unemployment rate for 15 to 19 year olds drop from 27.6 per cent to 23.4 per cent which is really pleasing to see.  The number of young people not in employment, education or training is also continuing to fall.