Employment up

Employment and labour force participation continued to improve in May while unemployment remained at 6%.

“We’re seeing more people in the labour market, with the participation rate surpassing the previous high in late 2008 before the downturn in the labour market,” labour market and households statistics manager Diane Ramsay said. “The rise in participation is on the back of more people in work, while the number of people looking for work remains unchanged.”

The labour force participation and employment rates both increased 0.4 percentage points over the quarter. “Employment continues to rise, with growth seen across a number of regions, industries, and demographics,” Ms Ramsay said. 

Annually, the number of people employed rose 3.7 percent in the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS). Demand for workers from established businesses rose 2.6 percent in the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES). 

Annual wage inflation, as measured by the labour cost index (LCI) salary and wage rates (including overtime), was 1.6 percent. This compares with annual consumer price inflation of 1.5 percent. Average ordinary time hourly earnings, as measured by the QES, rose 2.5 percent over the year. . .

 The latest labour market data shows continuing strong employment growth with 84,000 more jobs added to the New Zealand economy in the last year – the largest increase in nearly a decade.

“The latest results show the growing strength of the New Zealand economy,” Mr Joyce says. 

“While unemployment remained flat at 6.0 per cent, it was driven by a record labour force participation rate of 69.3 per cent. That compares with 64.7 per cent in Australia.

Highlights include:

  • Female participation rose to 63.7 per cent – a new record high.
  • Average ordinary time hourly earnings, as measured by the Quarterly Employment Survey, rose 2.5 per cent in the year. Inflation was 1.5 per cent in the last year, meaning New Zealanders’ wages continue to rise faster than the cost of living
  • Unemployment for Pasifika continues to fall – down 2.2 percentage points from a year ago.

New Zealand’s unemployment rate continues to be lower than most OECD countries. The average unemployment rate across the OECD is 7.6 per cent.

“Through our comprehensive Business Growth Agenda, the Government has a strong focus on creating the opportunities for competitive businesses to invest and employ more people.

“Our results so far are reflected in strong growth, increasing employment, an improved trade balance, stronger productivity growth, and real wages rising faster than the cost of living.”

An increase in employment and labour force participation while unemployment remains steady appears to be contradictory.

One explanation for that is that people who hadn’t been looking for work decided to and found jobs.

It could also reflect the return of people from Australia.
Photo: National's economic programme is working. http://bit.ly/1iVcOn0

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