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Halkitis predicts lower unemployment rate

  • Michael Halkitis. FILE

Guardian Senior Reporter

Published: May 08, 2013

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Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis said yesterday he expects the unemployment rate to be lower after the Department of Statistics completes its labor force survey this month.

Halkitis conceded that high unemployment is a legitimate concern, but urged people to await the new numbers which he expects to show that more jobs were added to the economy.

The rate of unemployment nationally dropped from 14.7 percent to 14 percent, according to the labor force survey released by the Department of Statistics in February.

The results of the survey refer to the period October 29 to November 4, 2012.

In the previous survey, released in May 2012 and representing the period April 23 to April 29, 2012, unemployment nationally decreased from 15.9 percent to 14.7 percent.

“We know that the problem of unemployment is an acute one,” Halkitis said. “Fourteen percent, while down from what it was, is unacceptable, so we have to keep working.

“This month, the Department of Statistics will be doing its labor force survey.  So in a few months they will tell us what the unemployment rate for the situation is now.

“When that comes out, we expect the unemployment rate to be down, and so more jobs would have been created.

“Earlier this year, when the department released its statistics for what the unemployment rate was in November of last year, the rate had dropped from 14.7 percent down to 14 percent, representing just over 1,900 jobs created.

“When the study is done for this month...we will see what the numbers are. Hopefully, they will be better.”

Halkitis also said the Christie administration will not be distracted by critics and will fulfill its promises during its five-year term.

“We are in politics, so you’ll get criticism and your opponents will say you’re a failure and all sorts of things,” he said.

“The detractors will say [the first year has] been a failure and we will not let that distract us from continuing to work.”

He was responding to criticism of the government’s first year in office, specifically the unfulfilled promise of the creation of 10,000 immediate jobs. That pledge was made by Philip Brave Davis (the now DPM) on the campaign trail.

Halkitis also gave an update on the preparation for the 2013/2014 budget which will be presented to Parliament on May 29.

“This first year has been one of consolidation, making sure that we stay within our targets,” he said. “We think that we will be right about where we project that we will be.

“Hopefully, better and as we go forward into this new budget year, 2013/2014, we would not have to carry forward certain expenditure so we will be freed up to implement some of our priorities.”

He said the government is focused on economic growth, curtailing spending while not burdening people with taxes.

The government is proposing to cut the budgets of its various departments and agencies by 25 percent in the 2014/2015 fiscal year.

The government has asked its agencies to cut their budgets by 10 percent right away.

Halkitis said many departments and agencies were successful in crafting plans to cut their reliance on government subventions.

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