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Household Labour Force Survey: March 2011 quarter
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  05 May 2011
Commentary

Labour market overview – seasonally adjusted

During the March 2011 quarter, the unemployment rate fell to 6.6 percent. This fall was the result of employment rising (by 30,000 people) and unemployment falling (by 2,000 people).

Male unemployment fell during this quarter, with the male unemployment rate down to 6.2 percent. The female unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.0 percent during the March 2011 quarter.

During the March 2011 quarter, both part-time employment and full-time employment rose (up 4.0 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively). Usual hours worked per week rose this quarter by 1.2 percent while actual hours worked fell by 0.9 percent.

The labour force participation rate increased to 68.7 percent in the March 2011 quarter. Male participation rose by 0.6 percentage points while female participation rose by 0.8 percentage points.

The earthquake that struck the Canterbury region on 22 February 2011 caused some disruption to interviewing. Statistics New Zealand suspended interviewing in Christchurch city and in the Selwyn and Waimakariri districts. This meant about 800 of the 2,200 Canterbury households in the survey sample were not interviewed.

The usual estimation method was altered for this quarter to account for the loss of households in Canterbury. For further information see the 'Technical notes' section of this release. The altered estimation method will be reviewed next quarter.

National estimates excluding Canterbury have also been produced. This data shows that the number of employed people rose by 34,000 while the number of unemployed fell by 1,000 during the March 2011 quarter.

 Diagram, The labour market March 2011 quarter, Seasonally adjusted figures

Employment – seasonally adjusted

Employment rose by 30,000 (1.4 percent) to 2,214,000 during the March 2011 quarter. This is the largest quarterly rise in employment since the June 2008 quarter. Since the March 2010 quarter, employment has risen by 39,000 (1.8 percent).

Both male and female employment rose by 15,000 in the March 2011 quarter (1.3 and 1.5 percent, respectively). On an annual basis, both male and female employment rose by 20,000.

In the March 2011 quarter, full-time employment rose by 0.5 percent. This rise comprised a 0.4 percent rise in male full-time employment and a 0.9 percent rise in female full-time employment. On an annual basis, full-time employment rose by 1.6 percent.

Part-time employment rose by 4.0 percent in the March 2011 quarter. This rise was driven by a 13,000 (10.0 percent) increase in male part-time employment while female part-time employment increased by 6,000 (1.8 percent). On an annual basis, part-time employment rose by 13,000 (2.5 percent).

 Graph, Full-time employment, seasonally adjusted, quarterly.  Graph, Part-time employment, seasonally adjusted, quarterly.

 

Trend series

The trend series adjusts for seasonal effects and removes the irregular component from a series. This can help reveal the underlying movement in employment.

On an annual basis, employment rose by 39,000 (1.8 percent). There were similar sized increases in both male and female employment. There has been a steady rise in employment since the September 2009 quarter.

Unadjusted annual series

During the March 2011 year, employment increased by 14,500 for those aged 65 years and over and decreased by 11,400 for those aged 15–19 years.

Annually, the number of people who were self-employed and not employing others rose by 26,300 (12.2 percent) to 242,300. This rise was driven by an increase in the number of self-employed females, which rose by 19,100 (27.5 percent).

In the year to March 2011, employment in the retail trade and accommodation industry and the education and training industry rose (by 16,000 and 10,500, respectively) while the number of people employed in the construction industry fell by 14,700 (8.2 percent).

Unemployment – seasonally adjusted

The number of people unemployed fell by 2,000 (1.4 percent) to 155,000 in the March 2011 quarter. This fall was driven by a decrease in male unemployment of 3,000 (3.8 percent) while female unemployment rose slightly – up 1,000 (1.1 percent).

On an annual basis, the number of unemployed people rose by 13,000 (9.4 percent). There were similar sized increases in both male and female unemployment.

In the March 2011 quarter, the unemployment rate fell by 0.1 percentage points to 6.6 percent. The male unemployment rate fell 0.3 percentage points to 6.2 percent while the female unemployment rate remained at 7.0 percent.

 Graph, Unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted, quarterly. Graph, Unemployment rate by sex, seasonally adjusted, quarterly.

 

Trend series

On an annual basis, unemployment rose by 5,000 or 3.3 percent. This rise was due to a rise in female unemployment, while male unemployment remained unchanged. The trend unemployment rate has remained fairly stable since the September 2009 quarter. 

Unadjusted annual series

On an annual basis, unemployment increased by 8,000 (31.2 percent) among those aged 20–24 years.

Working-age population – unadjusted

The working-age population grew by 14,800 (0.4 percent) during the March 2011 quarter. In the year to March 2011, the working-age population grew by 45,500 (1.3 percent) to reach 3,457,600.

Labour force participation rate – seasonally adjusted

The labour force participation rate is the total labour force (ie the number of employed and unemployed) expressed as a percentage of the working-age population.

During the March 2011 quarter, the labour force participation rate rose by 0.8 percentage points (to 68.7 percent). This is the highest participation rate since December 2008. The male labour force participation rate rose by 0.6 percentage points (to 74.8 percent) while the female labour force participation rate rose by 0.8 percentage points to 62.9 percent.

Annually, the labour force participation rate rose by 0.7 percentage points. The female labour force participation rate rose by 0.8 percentage points and the male labour force participation rate rose 0.5 percentage points.

During the March 2011 quarter, the labour force grew by 28,000 (1.2 percent) to 2,369,000. The female labour force rose by 16,000 (1.5 percent) to 1,115,000 and the male labour force rose by 12,000 (0.9 percent) to 1,254,000. Annually, the labour force grew by 53,000 (2.3 percent).

 Graph, Labour force participation rate, quarterly.

Total hours worked – seasonally adjusted

Actual hours are the number of hours a person worked in the reference week (including overtime). Usual hours are the number of hours a person normally works in a week.

In the March 2011 quarter, the number of actual hours worked fell by 690,000 (0.9 percent) while the number of usual hours worked rose by 980,000 (1.2 percent). Annually, actual hours worked rose by 287,000 (0.4 percent) and usual hours worked rose by 1,344,000 (1.7 percent).

Graph, Total hours worked each week, quarterly.

Jobless – unadjusted

The jobless are defined as those people who are either officially unemployed, available but not seeking work, or actively seeking but not available for work. The ‘available but not seeking work’ category is made up of the ‘seeking through newspaper only’, ‘discouraged’ and ‘other’ categories. 

In the year to March 2011, the number of jobless rose by 8,300 (3.2 percent) to 271,400. The rise in the number of jobless was driven by an increase in the number of people officially unemployed, while the number of people in the ‘other’ available but not seeking work category fell by 10.3 percent.

Underemployment – unadjusted

The number of underemployed people (employed people who work part-time and would prefer to work more hours) may serve as a measure of under-utilised labour in the economy. Of the 486,200 people employed part-time in the March 2011 quarter, 21.3 percent (103,600) would prefer to work more hours.

The percentage of males employed part-time who would prefer to work more hours fell in the year to March 2011 from 26.7 percent to 25.3 percent, while the percentage of females who would prefer to work more hours rose from 18.9 percent in March 2010 to 19.7 percent in March 2011.

Duration of unemployment – unadjusted

In the year to March 2011, short-term unemployment (those unemployed for 26 weeks or less) rose by 6,900 (6.6 percent) to 110,700. During the same period, the number of long-term unemployed (those unemployed for longer than 26 weeks) rose by 5,400 (15.5 percent) to 40,200. Of the total number of unemployed people in the March 2011 quarter, 66.4 percent had been so for 26 weeks or less, while 24.1 percent had been unemployed for longer than 26 weeks.

Duration of unemployment (unadjusted)
March 2010 quarter
(000)
March 2011 quarter
(000)
Short-term unemployment
26 weeks or less 103.8 110.7
Long-term employment
Over 26 weeks, but not over a year 23.7 27.4
Over one year, but not over two years 7.0 9.8
Over two years 4.1 3.0
Total long-term unemployment 34.8 40.2
Not specified 14.8 15.8
Total unemployment 153.5 166.7

Participation in formal study – unadjusted

During the March 2011 quarter, 246,100 people were participating in formal study, an 11.5 percent fall from the same quarter in 2010. Unemployed people were the most likely to be involved in formal study in the March 2011 quarter, with 9.9 percent participating. Of all employed people, 6.3 percent participated in formal study while 8.4 percent of people who were not in the labour force participated in formal study.

Ethnic group statistics – unadjusted

In the year to March 2011, the unemployment rate fell significantly for the Middle Eastern/Latin American/African only ethnic group and increased significantly for the Māori only ethnic group.

Single/combination unemployment rate (unadjusted) by ethnic group
March 2010 quarter
(percent)
March 2011 quarter
(percent)
European only 4.4 4.9
Māori only 14.2 16.1
Pacific peoples only 14.4 14.0
Asian only 9.8 9.3
MELAA only 16.2 8.6
Other ethnicity only 5.7 3.8
European/Māori 13.0 12.4
Two or more groups not elsewhere included 10.3 13.1
Note: MELAA= Middle Eastern/Latin American/African

The unemployment rate for all people who identified with the Māori ethnic group (including those who identified with other groups as well) was 14.6 percent for the March 2011 quarter. This is known as the total response Māori unemployment rate. This is a 1.0 percentage point rise since the March 2010 quarter.

Longer time series

The following graphs show the Household Labour Force Survey (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, quarterly.

 Graph, Unemployment, quarterly.

 Graph, Unemployment rate, quarterly.

National estimates excluding Canterbury – seasonally adjusted

The following data is national estimates with the working-age population of Canterbury excluded.

During the March 2011 quarter, the unemployment rate fell from 6.8 percent to 6.7 percent and the number of unemployed people fell by 1,000 (0.6 percent) to 134,000. The number of people employed rose by 34,000 (1.8 percent) to 1,880,000, with the number of actual hours worked rising by 851,000 (1.4 percent) during this period.

Annually, the number of actual hours worked rose by 2.7 percent, employment rose by 38,000 (2.1 percent) and unemployment rose by 10,000 (8.1 percent).

National excluding Canterbury (seasonally adjusted)
March 2011 quarter Quarterly change Annual change
Unemployment rate 6.7% -0.1 +0.4
Unemployed 134,000 -0.6% +8.1%
Employed 1,880,000 +1.8% +2.1%
Not in the labour force 922,000 -3.6% -1.6%
Labour force participation rate 68.6% +1.2 +0.9

 

For technical information contact:
Will Bell or Mallika Kelkar
Wellington 04 931 4600
Email: info@stats.govt.nz

Next release…

Household Labour Force Survey: June 2011 quarter is due to be released on
4 August 2011.

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