Mâori & Pacific Youth Unemployment Rates Need Action

Human Rights Commission – Media release


Nearly one in three Mâori and Pacific young workers are now unemployed, and action is needed to address their plight, says Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres.

Speaking at Wesley Broadway in Palmerston North on Monday night, Mr de Bres said Statistics New Zealand’s December Household Labour Force Survey results showed unemployment for Mâori had risen from 9.8 per cent to 15.4 per cent in the previous 12 months and from 7.8 per cent to 14.per cent for Pacific peoples. This compared to a rise in the European rate from 3.2 per cent to 4.6 per cent. Although the overall survey results were published last week, the ethnic breakdown of youth unemployment was not included.

The figures show a widening gap between different ethnic groups, which will impact on other social and economic areas, he said.

The unemployment rates for young people were even more worrying, with the Mâori rate going up from 19.5 per cent to 30.4 per cent and the Pacific rate from 18.6 per cent to 29.8 per cent. The current rate for MELAA (Middle Eastern, Latin American and African) youth is at 40 per cent.

“Almost one in every three Mâori and Pacific workers aged 15-24 is out of work,” Mr de Bres said. The younger demographic profile of the Mâori and Pacific communities means this has an even greater effect on these communities.”

“In last year’s Race Relations Report, I noted that the deepening economic recession was the most challenging issue for race relations in 2009. After a gradual process of economic and social recovery for Mâori and Pacific peoples, progress threatened to be halted and even reversed in terms of employment, standard of living and, consequently, other social conditions.”

This has unfortunately proved to be the case, and as we come out of the recession, it is vital these increased inequalities are reversed.

Mr de Bres said this was one of the top 10 race relations priorities identified in his forthcoming annual Race Relations Report, due to be released in Waitakere City on 11 March.

Media enquiries: Gilbert Wong 09 306 2660, or Kat Ryan 09 375 8616.

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