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Unemployment beneficiaries, 1991, 1996 and 2000

Between 30 and 40 percent of young people aged 15 to 24 years who received an unemployment benefit between 1991 and 2000 had no school qualifications. To receive an unemployment benefit, a person must be at least 18 years and available for full-time work. Young people aged 16 years or more who are married and have a dependent child may also qualify. The unemployment benefit was renamed the community wage between 1998 and 2000.

In the 1991 Census some 109,000 young people aged between 15 and 24 years had received the unemployment benefit in the previous twelve months. This was 20 percent of the 556,000 young people in the 15 to 24 year age group. Of those who had received this benefit, the proportion without any school qualifications was 43,000, or 40 percent. By the 1996 Census, 83,000 young people aged 15 to 24 years had received the unemployment benefit at some time during the previous 12 months, equating to 15 percent of the 534,000 young people in that age group. Around 25,000 or 30 percent of those who had received the benefit did not have any school qualifications. Department of Work and Income quarterly data for 2000 recorded between 38 and 42 percent of young people aged 15 to 24 receiving the community wage as being without any school qualifications.

Although the sex balance of young people aged 15 to 24 years who receive an unemployment benefit is reasonably even, males make up a greater proportion of those who are without any school qualifications. Of those young people who were receiving an unemployment benefit at the time of the 1991 Census, 56 percent were male. Yet males made up 64 percent of the 35,000 young people receiving the unemployment benefit who were without qualifications. The 1996 Census showed similar proportions. Males formed 51 percent of the 78,000 young people receiving an unemployment benefit, and 60 percent of those with no school qualifications. Department of Work and Income data for 2000 recorded males as forming 70 percent of 15 to 24 year olds receiving the community wage, who had left school without gaining a qualification.

In the 1991 Census, 46 percent of all males, and 33 percent of all females aged 15 to 24 years who were receiving an unemployment benefit had no school qualifications. By the 1996 Census these proportions had dropped, with 37 percent of males and 26 percent of females being without school qualifications. Quarterly Department of Work and Income data for 2000 recorded between 27 and 30 percent of all male and between 12 and 13 percent of all female community wage recipients as having no school qualifications.

Māori are over-represented among unemployment beneficiaries. Māori receiving the unemployment benefit are also less likely to have any school qualifications. In the 1991 Census, young people between 15 and 24 years who identified themselves as having Māori ethnicity formed 17 percent of the total 15 to 24 age group. Yet Māori made up 26 percent of young people between 15 and 24 years who had received the unemployment benefit in the previous 12 months. Young Māori also formed 39 percent of those unemployment beneficiaries who were without any school qualifications. In total, 61 percent of young Māori receiving the unemployment benefit had no school qualifications.

There was little change at the 1996 Census. Prioritised ethnic data showed that young people who identified as Māori at the 1996 Census formed 19 percent of the 15 to 24 age group. Young Māori made up 28 percent of those in the 15 to 24 age group who had received the unemployment benefit during the twelve months before the Census. Māori formed 45 percent of those without school qualifications. Half (50 percent) of young Māori who had received the unemployment benefit had no school qualifications, a decrease of 11 percentage points from the 1991 Census.

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