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Impacts of unemployment

Mäori continue to be over-represented amongst New Zealand’s unemployed. In 1996 Mäori comprised 27.7 percent of all unemployed people but only 12.3 percent of the total working age population.

In 1996, 7.5 percent of the Mäori labour force was unemployed. This was almost 3 times higher than for non-Mäori and represents a widening gap between the two groups since 1986. The rise in unemployment between 1986 and 1991 strongly affected Mäori. Over this period the unemployment rate for Mäori rose from 14.9 percent to 24.2 percent while the rate for non-Mäori increased from 5.8 percent to 9.0 percent.

Much of the increase in unemployment experienced by Mäori was due to increased unemployment amongst Mäori men. This largely occurred during the late 1980s as a result of substantial job losses in the manufacturing sector. The unemployment rate for Mäori men almost doubled between 1986 and 1991, moving from 12.0 percent to 23.8 percent. Over the same period, the rate for Mäori women increased from 19.1 percent to 24.7 percent. However, between 1991 and 1996, the unemployment rate for Mäori men dropped more than the rate for Mäori women, as an improved economic environment allowed entry back into the employed work force.

The proportion of the Mäori labour force who are unemployed varies considerably by age as shown in the figure below. The pattern is similar for both Mäori and non-Mäori, with unemployment highest among the younger age groups. Young Mäori in the 15-19 and 20-24 age groups experienced the highest rates of unemployment in 1996, with rates of 30.4 percent and 21.8 percent respectively.

Unemployment rates for Mäori and non-Mäori by age and sex, 1996

While Mäori unemployment rates were consistently higher than those for non-Mäori, at the 1996 Census date the difference was especially marked between the ages of 20 and 40. The proportion of Mäori in this age range who were unemployed was over two and a half times higher than that for non-Mäori.

For more information you can order NZ Now Maori or Te Kanohi Hou o Aotearoa: Mäori.


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