Unemployment under 5 percent as employment grows

3 May

The unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent in the March 2017 quarter (down from 5.2 percent in the previous quarter), while employment continued to grow, Stats NZ said today.

“In the March quarter, 6,000 fewer people were unemployed,” labour market and household statistics senior manager Mark Gordon said. “The unemployment rate for men fell from 4.8 percent to 4.2 percent, making it the lowest rate since the December 2008 quarter. However, the unemployment rate for women was unchanged.”

Unemployed people are those who are available to work, and who had either actively sought work or had a new job to start within the next four weeks.

The number of employed people increased 1.2 percent (29,000 people) in the March 2017 quarter. Men provided the main contribution to this increase, with more males in both full-time and part-time employment. For the sixth quarter in a row, employment growth exceeded growth in the working-age population (which was 0.7 percent). This meant New Zealand’s employment rate was up by 0.3 percentage points, to 67.1 percent.

Filled jobs (as measured by the Quarterly Employment Survey) increased 2.4 percent over the year to the March 2017 quarter. The accommodation and food services, and construction industries contributed almost half this increase – 32,300 more jobs.

“We're also starting to see construction employment build in regions other than Auckland and Canterbury,” Mr Gordon said. “Over the quarter, the Household Labour Force Survey showed a significant increase in employment in the Waikato region, which included 3,600 more people working in construction.”

Annual wage inflation, as measured by the labour cost index (LCI), held steady at 1.6 percent in the March 2017 quarter. Over the same time period, the consumers price index (CPI) increased 2.2 percent.

For the third quarter in a row, private sector wage inflation (as measured by the LCI) was lower than public sector inflation (1.5 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively). The growth in private sector wages was the lowest it has been since the June 2010 quarter.

Ends

For media enquiries contact: Mark Gordon, Wellington 04 931 4620, info@stats.govt.nz
Authorised by Liz MacPherson, Government Statistician, 3 May 2017

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