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Household Labour Force Survey: March 2009 quarter - Revised 11 June 2009 - See attached erratum
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  07 May 2009
Commentary

Labour market overview – seasonally adjusted

The March 2009 quarter Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) showed that the labour market has continued to weaken, as both unemployment and the unemployment rate rose for the fifth consecutive quarter. Both employment and labour force participation declined this quarter.

Unemployment increased by 7,000 (6.1 percent) to reach 114,000 over the March 2009 quarter, driven by male unemployment, which increased by 6,000. Over the quarter, the number of people unemployed increased while the size of the labour force decreased, resulting in an increase in the unemployment rate of 0.3 percentage points, to 5.0 percent. The last time the unemployment rate reached 5.0 percent in the March 2003 quarter.

Employment decreased over the March 2009 quarter by 25,000 (1.2 percent), with both full-time and part-time employment decreasing.

The number of people not in the labour force increased by 25,000 (2.5 percent) over the quarter, to reach 1,062,000.

The working-age population continued to grow over the March 2009 quarter, partly due to positive net permanent and long-term migration. This increase in the working-age population, combined with the decreased labour force, resulted in the labour force participation rate decreasing by 0.7 percentage points over the March 2009 quarter to 68.4 percent.

Graph, The Labour Market March 2009 Quarter Seasonally adjusted figures.

Employment – seasonally adjusted

Employment decreased by 25,000 (1.2 percent) to reach 2,181,000 over the March 2009 quarter. However, compared with the March 2008 quarter, employment has increased by 17,000 (0.8 percent).

Over the March 2009 quarter both full-time and part-time employment decreased. Most of the decrease came from full-time employment which fell by 14,000 (0.8 percent), while part-time employment fell by 12,000 (2.5 percent).

Male employment decreased by 15,000 (1.3 percent) to 1,157,000 over the March 2009 quarter. This is the lowest seasonally adjusted figure recorded since the December 2006 quarter. The lower figure was due to decreases in both male full-time and part-time employment, down by 12,000 and 2,000 respectively. In annual terms, male employment decreased by 0.3 percent, with full-time employment decreasing by 12,000 and part-time employment increasing by 9,000 (1.2 and 6.9 percent, respectively).

Female employment also decreased over the March 2009 quarter, down by 11,000 (1.0 percent) to 1,025,000. Female part-time employment decreased by 8,000 (2.3 percent), and female full-time employment decreased by 4,000 (0.5 percent). In annual terms, female employment increased by 2.0 percent. Female full-time employment increased by 22,000 (3.4 percent), which was partly offset by female part-time employment decreasing by 2,000 (0.6 percent).---PDF BREAK---

In the survey (unadjusted) series, there was a significant annual decrease in employment in the Auckland region, while there was a significant increase in the Wellington region. Employment among those aged 65 and over increased significantly, the only age demographic to show significant movement.

 Graph, Full-time Employment.    Graph, Part-time Employment.

Unemployment – seasonally adjusted

The unemployment rate increased by 0.3 percentage points over the March 2009 quarter, to reach 5.0 percent. This is the first time the unemployment rate has reached 5.0 percent since the March 2003 quarter.

Over the March 2009 quarter, the male unemployment rate increased by 0.5 percentage points to 5.1 percent, while the female unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 4.8 percent.

Annually, the male unemployment rate increased by 1.5 percentage points, while the female unemployment rate increased by 0.8 percentage points.

The number of people unemployed increased by 7,000 (6.1 percent), to reach 114,000 over the March 2009 quarter. This increase was driven by the number of unemployed males, which increased by 6,000 to 62,000 over the quarter. Annually, unemployment increased by 29,000 (34.2 percent). Male unemployment increased by 19,000, while female unemployment increased by 10,000.

 Graph, Unemployment.   Graph, Unemployment Rate by Sex.

Working-age population – unadjusted

The working-age population grew by 11,500 (0.3 percent) over the March 2009 quarter, and 38,100 (1.1 percent) over the year, to reach 3,360,800. This increase was partly due to a 3,800 net gain from mean net permanent and long-term migration in the March 2009 quarter.

In the year to March 2009, the working-age population increased significantly in the Wellington and Otago regions.

Labour force participation – seasonally adjusted

The labour force participation rate for the March 2009 quarter fell by 0.7 percentage points to 68.4 percent. Conversely, on an annual basis, the labour force participation rate rose 0.7 percentage points.

The female labour force participation rate fell by 0.6 percentage points to 62.3 percent over the March 2009 quarter. This is the third-highest female participation rate recorded by the survey. The male labour force participation rate also fell over the quarter, down 0.8 percentage points to 74.8 percent. Annually, both the female and male participation rates rose, 1.2 percentage points and 0.1 percentage points, respectively.

The total labour force decreased by 19,000 (0.8 percent) over the March 2009 quarter, to reach 2,295,000. Annually, the labour force increased by 46,000.

Graph, Labour Force Participation Rate.

Total hours worked – seasonally adjusted

The March 2009 quarter showed a slight increase in the total number of actual hours worked. The number of usual hours worked per week however, decreased 0.5 percent over the March 2009 quarter. On an annual basis, the number of actual hours worked and usual hours worked both increased, by 1.0 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

Graph, Total Hours Worked Each Week.

Jobless – unadjusted

The jobless are defined as those people who are either officially unemployed, available but not seeking work, or actively seeking work but not available. Annually, the total number of jobless increased by 35,700 (18.9 percent), to reach 224,100. The number of discouraged workers more than doubled on an annual basis, to reach 5,400, up 3,000 (124.6 percent).

Underemployment – unadjusted

The number of underemployed people (those employed part-time who would like to work more hours) may serve as one measure of under-utilisation of labour in the economy. There were 477,000 people employed part-time in the survey series in the March 2009 quarter, 21.2 percent of whom (101,300) indicated a preference to work more hours. This compares with 19.3 percent and 16.5 percent for the December 2008 and September 2008 quarters, respectively.

In the March 2009 quarter, 27.0 percent of males employed part-time indicated a preference to work more hours, compared with 19.0 percent of females employed part-time.

Duration of unemployment – unadjusted

Short-term unemployment (those unemployed 26 weeks or less) increased to 94,400 in the March 2009 quarter, up from 65,000 in the March 2008 quarter. Over the same period, the number of long-term unemployed (those unemployed for more than 26 weeks) increased to 19,200 in the March 2009 quarter, up from 10,800 in the March 2008 quarter. Of the total number of people unemployed, 73.3 percent were in the short-term unemployment category in the March 2009 quarter, up from 67.8 percent in the March 2008 quarter. 

Duration of unemployment (unadjusted)
  March 2008 quarter (000) March 2009 quarter (000)
Short-term unemployment
26 weeks or less

65.0

 94.4
Long-term unemployment
Over 26 weeks, but not over one year
Over one year, but not over two years
Over two years
Total long-term unemployment

7.7
1.5
1.6
10.8

14.7 
 3.7
S
19.2
Not specified 20.1 15.3
Total unemployment 96.0 128.8

Symbol:
S suppressed (please refer to the technical notes of this release for more information).

Participation in formal study – unadjusted

In the March 2009 quarter, 263,900 people were participating in formal study, a 10.1 percent increase from the same quarter in 2008. Of all unemployed people, 9.4 percent were participating in formal study in the March 2009 quarter. This compares with 9.0 percent of those not in the labour force, and 7.2 percent of those who were employed.

Ethnic group statistics – unadjusted

Ethnicity series are now published using the single/combination output method of classification. With this method, people are counted just once according to the ethnic group or combination of ethnic groups they have reported. Please refer to the technical notes of this release for more information.

Annually, unadjusted unemployment rates increased significantly for the European only, Pacific peoples only, European/Māori, and the ‘two or more groups not elsewhere included’ ethnic groups.

Single/combination unemployment rate (unadjusted) by ethnic group
  March 2008 quarter (percent) March 2009 quarter (percent)
 European only 3.0 3.9
 Māori only 10.2  10.7
 Pacific peoples only 8.7 13.6
 Asian only  5.8 6.7
 MELAA only 10.4 12.0
'Other ethnicity' only  S S
 European/Māori 7.2 11.6
 Two or more groups not elsewhere included 6.2 11.8

Note: MELAA = Middle Eastern/Latin American/African
Symbol:
S suppressed (please refer to the technical notes of this release for more information).

Longer time series

The following graphs show the HLFS series for the number of employed, 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 request.

Graph, Employment.

 

Graph, Labour Force Participation Rate.

 

Graph, Unemployment Rate.

 

For technical information contact:
Lourdes Vivo or Sharon Snelgrove
Wellington 04 931 4600
Email: info@stats.govt.nz.  

Next release ...

Household Labour Force Survey: June 2009 quarter will be released on 6 August 2009.

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