Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

March Unemployment Benefit Claims Fall To 13-Year Low

Strong economic growth and job opportunities have resulted in a 4.9% fall in the number of people claiming unemployment benefits in the year to March 2004, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.

According to the latest labour market and related payments figures released by the Department of Family and Community Services there were 620,439 people receiving benefits in March – a fall of 4.9% from March 2003.

Senator Patterson said this was the lowest March figure since March 1991.

She said the number of long-term unemployed clients had decreased by 15% since March 1999.

Senator Patterson said the number of long-term jobseekers has dropped by almost 17,000 (6%) to 262,525.

The number of young unemployed clients fell by about 1,500 to 88,396- a 1.8% decrease.

Senator Patterson said: “The Howard Government has taken action to address the unemployment rate and since coming to office more than 1.3 million new jobs have been created.”

“This is a far cry from the days of Labor when unemployment reached crisis levels. In the recession ‘we had to have’ there were nearly one million Australians unemployed.”

“We have the lowest interest rates and lowest inflation in a generation. We have achieved sustained low unemployment rates and we have seen real incomes boosted by 10% since we were elected.”