Statistics Minister Maurice Williamson and and Government Statistician Geoff Bascand have announced that the census which was due to be held on March 8 has been called off.
The decision has been made after extensive consultation.
“This is not the time to go door to door asking New Zealanders for information when they’re dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake,” Mr Williamson said.
“It’s unthinkable that we would ask this of people. It would be an unfair burden and distraction at a time when they are grieving.”
There has been extensive damage to Statistics New Zealand buildings with significant impacts on census staff.
Mr Bascand said he acknowledges the decision will have consequences for people who use the census data in their work.
“We will now investigate the feasibility of alternative options,” Mr Bascand said.
This is a sensible decision but not one without consequences.
Among those will be the re-drawing of electorate boundaries which is carried out after each
6- 5 yearly census.
Employment growth last year was concentrated in service industries, notably education, transport, storage and communications while fewer people were employed in agriculture, construction and manufacturing, government statistician Geoff Bascand says.
I’m surprised by the decrease in agriculture because the December quarter is a busy one on farms and the number of new dairy conversions last year would have created more jobs in that sector than were lost from sheep and beef farms which were converted. This is confirmed by the grapevine which is full of stories about the difficulty of finding staff.
Primary industries in Australia have also been struggling to recruit employees and a prawn fisherman we spoke to when we were there a couple of weeks ago said the announcement of 350 redundancies at BHP’s Townsville refinery wasn’t all bad news because it might make it easier for farmers and fishermen who hadn’t been able to compete with mining when looking for workers.
The household labour survey showed the number of people unemployed in New Zealand reached 105,000 in the three months to December last year, the highest level since September 2002.
Unemployment rose by .4%, or 10,000 people, to 4.6% in the December quarter.
The number of people employed increased by 21,000 which was a .9% increase and the labour force participation rate increased by .6 percentage points to 69.3% .
On a related matter, Lindsay Mitchell compares unemployment benefits and superannuation in New Zealand and Australia.