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Slight rise in unemployment and underutilisation rates - Stats NZ

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 4.5 percent in the June 2018 quarter, up from 4.4 percent last quarter, Stats NZ said today.

"The slight rise in the unemployment rate follows five consecutive falls, from 5.3 percent in the December 2016 quarter to last quarter’s 4.4 percent," labour market and household statistics senior manager Jason Attewell said. "It remains close to the nine-year low seen last quarter."

In the June 2018 quarter, the seasonally adjusted underutilisation rate rose to 12.0 percent, up from 11.9 percent last quarter. The underutilisation rate is equally as important as the unemployment rate. It provides a broader gauge of untapped capacity in New Zealand’s labour market.

In addition to unemployment, underutilisation reflects people who are employed part time (working fewer than 30 hours a week) and have both the desire and availability to increase the number of hours they work (underemployment). They are also people who want a job, are available to work but are not looking (available jobseeker), or are looking for work and are not available but will be able to start within the next month (unavailable jobseeker).

"Underutilisation includes a parent looking to start work in the next month once their child begins school, or someone who has just finished high school and wants a job but hasn’t started looking yet," Mr Attewell said.

In the June 2018 quarter, the employment rate was 67.7 percent. This has remained unchanged for three consecutive quarters, and is the second-highest employment rate since the series began in 1986. The highest was in the September 2017 quarter, when it was 67.8 percent.

The employment rate for men was 72.8 percent. The employment rate for women was 62.8 percent, the highest ever for women.

The employment rate for Mâori was 64.6 percent (unadjusted), up from 60.3 percent last year. This was their highest employment rate on record.

Annually, seasonally adjusted total employment was up 93,000 people to reach 2,631,000, an increase of 3.7 percent.

Compared with last year, more people were employed in the following industries:

- healthcare and social assistance (up 26,200)

- professional, scientific, technical, administrative, and support services (up 23,800).

Seasonally adjusted filled jobs, as measured by the quarterly employment survey (QES), increased 1.2 percent annually. This resulted in 23,100 more jobs, to reach a total of 1,953,800. The industries with the greatest growth in jobs over the June 2018 year were education and training; retail trade; and professional, scientific, technical, administrative, and support services.

Differences between filled jobs in the QES and employment numbers in the HLFS can largely be explained by differences in survey coverage. The QES excludes a number of industries, including agriculture, and those who are self-employed without employees, to better fit international standards. Conversely, the HLFS only includes usually resident New Zealanders, so can exclude some temporary seasonal labourers.

The labour cost index (LCI) increased 1.9 percent in the year to the June 2018 quarter. The minimum wage increase by the Government of 75 cents to $16.50 on 1 April 2018 was the main contributor to higher wage rates for the quarter. However, the Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Act 2017 remains the key contributor for the year, most notably for private sector care workers. 

Average ordinary-time hourly earnings in the QES rose to $31.00, an annual increase of 3.0 percent. This reflected a 1.5 percent increase in the public sector and a 3.3 percent increase in the private sector.

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