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Household Labour Force Survey: June 2013 quarter
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  07 August 2013
Commentary

Overview

In the June 2013 quarter, the number of people employed increased by 8,000 (0.4 percent) in seasonally adjusted terms. This is the second quarterly increase in a row, after a fall in 2012.

The unemployment rate increased 0.2 percentage points to 6.4 percent over the quarter. This reflected 5,000 more people unemployed. Over the year, the unemployment rate fell from 6.8 percent in the June 2012 quarter.

Over the quarter, the labour force participation rate rose from 67.9 percent to 68.0 percent, while the number of people not in the labour force remained unchanged. Over the year, the number of people outside the labour force continued to rise, reflecting an increase in both the number of youth in study and the number of people in retirement.

 Diagram, Labour market overview, June 2013 quarter.

Employment continues to increase, after falling throughout 2012

In the June 2013 quarter, the seasonally adjusted number of people employed increased 0.4 percent (8,000) to 2,242,000. This followed a 1.7 percent rise in the March 2013 quarter. The rise in employment over the quarter came entirely from a rise in male employment. The number of men employed increased by 10,000 (0.9 percent), while the number of women employed decreased by 2,000 (0.2 percent).

In the June 2013 quarter, the employment rate changed very little, falling 0.1 percentage points to 63.6 percent. This followed a large rise in the March 2013 quarter. The male employment rate increased, for the second quarter in a row, reaching 69.5 percent, while the female employment rate fell to 58.1 percent.

Over the year to June 2013, the number of people employed grew by 17,000 (0.7 percent).

 Graph, Employment rate, quarterly, June 2009 to June 2013.

Growth in hours outpaces growth in employment

In the year to June 2013, the total number of actual hours rose 2.2 percent. This annual growth in actual hours was larger than employment growth. This reflects an increase in average weekly hours of 1.5 percent to 33.6 hours. The total number of hours people usually work also increased over the year (0.5 percent).

Over the year, the number of full-time workers rose 1.5 percent, while part-time employment fell 1.8 percent.

In the June 2013 quarter, full-time employment increased slightly, after a large rise in March 2013. Part-time employment rose for the second quarter in a row, following a large fall in the December 2012 quarter.

Over the quarter, the seasonally adjusted number of actual hours worked per week decreased 0.2 percent to 75.4 million hours. This fall followed a large increase in the March 2013 quarter. The number of usual hours decreased by a larger amount than actual hours – down 1.7 percent to 80.2 million hours in the June 2013 quarter.

Graph, Actual hours, quarterly, June 2009 to June 2013.

Canterbury leads employment growth

The following figures are not seasonally adjusted, and are based on annual changes.

The Canterbury labour market continued to strengthen, with more people in the labour force and fewer people outside the labour force. The number of people employed grew by 16,800 (5.5 percent) over the year and the employment rate rose to 67.6 percent from 63.7 percent a year ago. The number of people unemployed fell by 6,500 to 15,000, with the unemployment rate falling to 4.4 percent from 6.5 percent in the June 2012 quarter.

The main contributors to total increase in employment were the construction industry and the retail trade, accommodation, and food services industry group. These were not statistically significant movements.

In Canterbury, the growth in hours was similar to employment growth, with the total number of actual and usual hours worked per week increasing by 6.4 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively.

While most of the annual employment growth in the national estimates came from Canterbury, the rest of the country also saw a rise in actual hours worked. Excluding Canterbury from the national estimates, the number of people employed remained unchanged over the year, while actual hours worked increased 1.6 percent.

Employment in Auckland also showed positive signs. Over the year to June 2013, the number of people employed in Auckland rose by 20,100 (2.8 percent). However, as annual population growth was larger than employment growth, the employment rate fell by 1.0 percentage point to 62.3 percent. The population growth was particularly large for the Asian ethnic group.

Graph, Canterbury employment rate, unadjusted, quarterly, June 2009 to June 2013.

Unemployment up over the quarter, down over the year

In the June 2013 quarter, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged up 0.2 percentage points to 6.4 percent. Following a large fall in the March 2013 quarter, the unemployment rate is still below 2012’s average rate of 6.9 percent. Unlike the seasonally adjusted series, the trend series continued to fall for the third quarter in a row, down 0.1 percentage points to 6.3 percent in the June 2013 quarter – its lowest level since the June 2009 quarter.

The number of unemployed people increased by 5,000 (3.7 percent) to 153,000 in the June 2013 quarter. Most of this increase came from the number of unemployed men, which rose by 4,000 (5.6 percent). The number of unemployed women also increased, up 2,000 (1.9 percent).

Graph, Unemployed, quarterly, June 2009 to June 2013. Graph, Unemployment rate, quarterly, June 2009 to June 2013.

In unadjusted terms, the number of people in long-term unemployment (unemployed for more than 26 weeks) decreased for the third quarter in a row. Over the year to June 2013, long-term unemployment fell by 7,200 to 37,800. This is the largest annual decline since December 2004.

Alongside decreasing long-term unemployment, the likelihood that an unemployed person would enter into employment, from one quarter to the next, increased during the June 2013 year, after declining since June 2007.

 Graph, Likelihood an unemployed person becomes employed, June quaters 2005 to June 2013.

Self-employment down over the year

The following figures are not seasonally adjusted, and are based on annual changes.

Over the year to June 2013, there was an increase of 45,500 (2.5 percent) in the number of employees. However, the number of people who were self-employed fell by 22,200 (9.3 percent).

In this release, we have introduced a new table on people employed by employment status and sex. See table 10 in the ‘Downloads box’.

HLFS compared with the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES)

The fall in self-employment over the year contributed to smaller employment growth in the HLFS than in the QES. The HLFS comparable series removes self-employment and agricultural employment to be comparable with the scope of the QES. It is useful to compare the HLFS with the QES as they are complementary measures of the labour market. The QES surveys established businesses, while the HLFS is a household survey.

The QES showed a 1.9 percent increase in filled jobs over the June 2013 year, and the HLFS comparable series showed a 1.8 percent increase in the number of people employed. Hours have improved in both the QES and the HLFS comparable series, with a 1.8 percent increase in total paid hours and a 1.4 percent increase in total usual hours worked.

Participation still down over the year

In seasonally adjusted terms, the labour force participation rate remained relatively unchanged in the June 2013 quarter – up 0.1 percentage points to 68.0 percent. Over the year, participation fell 0.4 percentage points from 68.4 percent.

The number of people not in the labour force remained unchanged over the quarter at 1,127,000. However, over the year to June 2013 the number of people not in the labour force increased by 24,000. Underneath this rise were increases in both the number of retired people and youth solely in study. The increase in the number of retired people reflects a greater number of people hitting retirement age. In addition, the rate at which older people are retiring has stopped declining over the past year.

More youth outside the labour force but in education over the year

The following figures are not seasonally adjusted, and are based on annual changes unless otherwise stated.

In unadjusted terms, the youth labour force contracted over the year to June 2013, with 14,000 fewer youth in the labour force and a fall in participation. The labour force participation rate fell to 57.6 percent – its lowest level since the series began in 1986. This fall in participation coincided with a rise in youth outside the labour force and a strong rise in the number of youth studying (up 12,200 or 6.4 percent). As a result, the number of youth not in employment, education, or training (NEET) fell by 7,200 over the year.

In the June 2013 quarter, the seasonally adjusted NEET rate decreased 0.5 percentage points to 12.1 percent. This is the lowest NEET rate since the December 2008 quarter. The fall in the NEET rate came mainly from a fall of 0.9 percentage points in the 15–19-year-old rate.

Graph, NEET rate, seasonally adjusted, quarterly, June 2009 to June 2013.

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

Graph, Employment rate, quarterly, June 1998 to June 2013.

Graph, Unemployment rate, quarterly, June 1998 to June 2013.

Graph, Labour force participation rate, quarterly, June 1998 to June 2013.

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

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