The unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent in the September 2016 quarter (from a revised 5.0 percent in the previous quarter), Statistics New Zealand said today. This is the lowest unemployment rate since the December 2008 quarter. There were 3,000 fewer people unemployed than in the June 2016 quarter and 10,000 fewer over the year.
“The number of people employed in New Zealand was up 35,000, or 1.4 percent, in the September 2016 quarter,” labour and income statistics manager Mark Gordon said. “This strong growth in employment, coupled with fewer unemployed people, pushed the unemployment rate below 5.0 percent for the first time in nearly eight years.”
The working-age population increased by 24,000 people (0.7 percent) over the quarter, to reach 3,739,000.
“The increase in the number of people employed again exceeded population growth over the latest quarter. This resulted in the employment rate increasing 0.5 percentage points, so currently 66.7 percent of the working-age population is in some form of employment,” Mr Gordon said.
The rental, hiring, and real estate services industry had a significant increase in unadjusted employment over the quarter, with 5,000 more people employed. Significant increases for this industry occurred in the Auckland, Wellington, and Manawatu-Wanganui regions.
Over the quarter the underutilisation rate fell 0.5 percentage points, to 12.2 percent. This reflects 13,000 fewer people being underutilised. Underutilisation is a measure of potential labour supply and unmet needs for work. A fall in the number of female 'available potential jobseekers', (down 8,600) drove the decrease. These are people who are available and want to work, but are not actively seeking work.
Annual wage inflation, as measured by the labour cost index, increased to 1.6 percent. Private sector wage inflation remained at 1.6 percent while for the public sector it increased to 1.7 percent. The increase in the public sector was influenced by collective agreements for nurses, primary teachers, and the police. This had the effect of making wage inflation higher in the public than the private sector for the first time since the June 2010 quarter.