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Household Labour Force Survey: June 2012 quarter
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  09 August 2012
Commentary

Small fall in employment and small rise in unemployment

Over the June 2012 quarter, the number of people employed fell by 2,000. This saw the employment rate fall 0.3 percentage points, to 63.8 percent. This fall resulted from employment decreasing and the working-age population continuing to grow. Since the March 2011 quarter, the employment rate has remained around 63.9 percent. This indicates that employment growth is only keeping pace with the working-age population.

The unemployment rate edged up 0.1 percentage point to 6.8 percent in the June 2012 quarter. The number of people unemployed increased by 2,000, reflecting a small increase in female and male unemployment.

The small fall in employment and small rise in unemployment resulted in a flat labour force this quarter. However, the labour force participation rate decreased by 0.3 percentage points over the quarter, down to 68.4 percent, due to an increase in the working-age population.

The number of people not in the labour force increased by 16,000 this quarter (up 1.4 percent). This reflects a rise in the number of men not in the labour force.  

 Diagram, labour market overview, June 2012 quarter, seasonally adjusted figures.

Employment not keeping up with the growing population

Over the June 2012 quarter, the employment rate (the proportion of the working-age population who are employed) decreased 0.3 percentage points, to 63.8 percent. This was due to a fall in the number of people employed and a rise in the number of people in the working-age population. The working-age population grew by 15,000 people (up 0.4 percent).

The number of people in employment fell by 2,000 (0.1 percent). The number of men employed was down by 5,000 (0.5 percent) while the number of women employed was up by 3,000 (0.3 percent). This was reflected in a 0.8 percentage point fall in the male employment rate (down to 69.4 percent). The female employment rate remained flat (58.4 percent).

Part-time employment decreased, from a peak in the March quarter. In the June 2012 quarter, part-time employment was down 18,000 (3.4 percent), while full-time employment was up 13,000 (0.8 percent).

Both actual and usual hours worked  increased slightly, up 0.5 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.

  Graph, employment rate, seasonally adjusted, quarterly, June 2008 to June 2012. Graph, employment rate by sex, seasonally adjusted, quarterly, June 2008 to June 2012.

The trend series

The trend series adjusts for seasonal effects and removes the irregular component from a series. This is why trend estimates may differ from seasonally adjusted estimates. The trend series can help reveal the underlying movement in a series.

Employment in the trend series saw an increase of 2,000 (0.1 percent) in the June 2012 quarter. This came entirely from a rise in employment for women of 2,000. In contrast to the seasonally adjusted series, the trend series showed no change in male employment.

Refer to the Data quality section of this release for more information about trend series.

Unadjusted annual movements

All movements are statistically significant.

Age group – During the June 2012 year, there were increases in employment for people aged 55–59 years and 65 years and over (65+). Employment in these age groups rose by 7,000 (3.4 percent) and 12,200 (11.8 percent), respectively. This reflects an ageing population, as well as higher labour force participation for these groups. In contrast, people aged 35–39 years and 45–49 years had decreases in employment, down 6,200 (2.7 percent) and 7,700 (2.9 percent), respectively. The working-age population for these age groups also decreased.

Industry – Over the June 2012 year, employment in the transport, postal, and warehousing industry increased by 19,500 people (21.2 percent). The number of both men and women employed in the industry increased. The professional, scientific, technical, administration, and support services industry group had a 16,400 increase in employment (6.8 percent) – there was a large increase in the number of women employed in the industry.

Region – Employment increased in the Taranaki region, up 6,900 (12.5 percent) in the June 2012 year, reflecting a rise in male employment. In contrast, women in the Canterbury region had a 15,800 decrease in employment (down 10.3 percent).

Small increase in unemployment

In seasonally adjusted terms, unemployment increased by 2,000 people (1.1 percent) to 162,000 in the June 2012 quarter. This reflected rises in both the number of unemployed men and women. In the latest quarter, the same number of men and women were unemployed (81,000). The unemployment rate for men was 6.4 percent; for women it was 7.2 percent (both up 0.1 percentage point).

Graph, unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted, quarterly, June 2008 to June 2012.   Graph, unemployment rate by sex, seasonally adjusted, quarterly, June 2008 to June 2012.

The trend series

The trend series shows unemployment increased by 5,000 (3.2 percent) to 163,000 people. Female unemployment was up 5,000 (6.3 percent) while male unemployment was flat over the quarter.

Unadjusted annual movements

All movements are statistically significant.

Age group – During the June 2012 year, there was an increase in unemployment for people aged 30–34 years (up 4,100). Unemployment decreased for people aged 15–19 years (down 7,100), including a decrease in the number of unemployed men in this age group.

Ethnicity – In the year to June 2012, unemployment increased for women who identified with the Pacific peoples (up 3,100) and Asian ethnic groups (up 4,500). 

Labour force flat while 'not in the labour force' rises

The seasonally adjusted labour force (the employed and the unemployed), was flat in the June 2012 quarter. The lack of change, coupled with a larger working-age population, meant the labour force participation rate fell by 0.3 percentage points (from 68.7 to 68.4 percent).

For men the labour force participation rate was 74.2 percent (down 0.7 percentage points). For women the rate was 63.0 percent (up 0.1 percentage points), the highest-ever rate (equal to the December 2008 quarter). 

While the labour force was flat in the June 2012 quarter, the number of people not in the labour force increased by 16,000 (1.4 percent). Men not in the labour force increased by a much greater amount than women, up 15,000 (3.5 percent) and 1,000 (0.1 percent), respectively.

  Graph, labour force participation rate, seasonally adjusted, quarterly, June 2008 to June 2012.  Graph, labour force participation rate, quarterly, seaonally adjusted, June 2008 to June 2012.
 

Unadjusted annual movements

All movements are statistically significant.

Age group – Over the June 2012 year, there was an increase in the number of people aged 65+ who were not in the labour force (10,600 or 2.4 percent). Most of the increase was for women. The number of people not in the labour force aged 35–39 years decreased by 6,000 (12.0 percent), to 43,900.

Jobless – Over the June 2012 year, the number of jobless people increased by 20,200 to 271,200; it increased particularly for women. The jobless are people who are either unemployed, or not in the labour force and available but not seeking work, or who are actively seeking but not available for work.

Employment and hours worked fall in Canterbury   

In unadjusted annual terms, lower employment in the Canterbury region tempered national employment. If the Canterbury region was excluded, national employment growth would have been 1.6 percent, instead of 0.5 percent, over the June 2012 year. 

Unadjusted annual changes for the June 2012 quarter   
  Annual change 
Canterbury National excluding Canterbury  National
Unemployment rate +0.8 +0.1 +0.2
Employment rate -0.3 -0.2 -0.1
Labour force participation rate +0.3 -0.1 0.0
Unemployed +8.5% +3.7% +4.4%
Employed  -5.5% +1.6%  +0.5%
Not in the labour force  -6.0% +1.9% +0.8%
Working-age population -5.1%  +1.8%  +0.8% 
Actual hours  -5.8% +0.6% -0.3%

Over the year, the Canterbury working-age population continued to decrease. Employment for the region fell by 5.5 percent to 306,700. The decrease in female employment (15,700 or 10.3 percent) was significant. The decrease in employment was mirrored in a fall in actual and usual hours worked in the Canterbury region.

The fall in employment over the year was significant in the education and training, and the health care and social assistance industries. The falls in these industries were reflected in the decrease of total female employment – the majority of people employed in these industries are women. Employment increased significantly in the transport, postal, and warehousing industry in Canterbury, as it did nationally.

The June 2011 quarter was the first quarter after the February 2011 earthquake and so reflects Canterbury in the aftermath of the earthquake. The June 2012 quarter reflects the outcomes for the region a year later. Care should be taken when making annual comparisons in the Canterbury region.

Supplementary tables with detailed data for the Canterbury region are included in this release. These are similar to tables 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 11, and 14 from the main tables. Data in the tables for the Canterbury region are all unadjusted.

To view these tables, see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

Proportion of youth not in employment, education, or training (NEET) decreases 

In seasonally adjusted terms, the youth (15–24 years) NEET rate fell 0.4 percentage points over the June 2012 quarter, to 13.1 percent. The male NEET rate was down 0.9 percentage points, to 11.0 percent, while the female NEET rate was up 0.2 percentage points, to 15.4 percent. The fall in the male NEET rate reflected a decrease in the number of men who were unemployed and not in education. 

For people aged 15–19 years the NEET rate was flat (8.9 percent) while it fell for the 20–24-year-olds by 0.8 percentage points (to 17.1 percent).

The youth NEET rate was introduced into the HLFS official estimates in the December 2011 quarter. The rate is calculated as the total number of youth who are NEET, as a proportion of the total youth working-age population. Refer to the Data quality section for more information.

Longer time series

The following graphs show the HLFS series for the employment rate, the labour force participation rate, and the unemployment rate over a 15-year period. A complete time series from March 1986 onwards is available on Infoshare. 

For more detailed data see the Excel tables in the ‘Downloads’ box. 

 Graph, employment rate, quarterly, June 1997 to June 2012.

 

Graph, labour force participation rate, quarterly, June 1997 to June 2012.

 

Graph, unemployment rate, quarterly, June 1997 to June 2012.

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