RTTNews - Unemployment in New Zealand jumped by the highest amount in nearly 21 years in the 2nd quarter of 2009, reaching a nine-year high.

Statistics NZ reported Thursday that the nation's jobless rate increased to 6.0 percent, a full percentage point higher that the rate in Q1.

It marked the biggest on-quarter increase in joblessness since the September 1988 quarter.

Most economists had forecast a jobless rate of 5.7 percent.

The unemployment rate and the number of people unemployed have both been increasing for six straight quarters. The rate hit a low of 3.5 percent in the December 2007 quarter.

Statistics NZ said the number of unemployed persons increased 20.6 percent in the June 2009 quarter. Altogether, 138,000 residents were unemployed, a 10-year high.

The number of New Zealanders employed full time decreased by 18,000 or a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent while part time employment increased by 7,000.

Statistics NZ data indicated females fared worse in the jobless picture than males. Employment among women was down 12,000 in the June quarter, with full time employment of females down by 16,000 while part time employment increased by 1,000.

Male employment was higher by 2.000.

The agency said New Zealand's employment participation rate remained unchanged from the March quarter at 68.4 percent. The participation rate measures the percentage of the population either holding or seeking employment.

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