Stats NZ has a new website.

For new releases go to

www.stats.govt.nz

As we transition to our new site, you'll still find some Stats NZ information here on this archive site.

  • Share this page to Facebook
  • Share this page to Twitter
  • Share this page to Google+
Household Labour Force Survey: September 2013 quarter
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  06 November 2013
Commentary

Overview

In the September 2013 quarter, the employment rate increased 0.7 percentage points in seasonally adjusted terms. The number of people employed increased by 27,000.

The unemployment rate decreased over the quarter, down 0.2 percentage points to 6.2 percent. This decrease reflected 4,000 fewer people being unemployed. The fall in unemployment was from fewer women unemployed.

The labour force grew by 23,000 people, with the rise in employment greater than the fall in unemployment. The labour force participation rate increased 0.5 percentage points in the quarter, to 68.6 percent.

 Diagram, labour market overview, September 2013 quarter.

Employment increases for both men and women

In the September 2013 quarter, the employment rate increased to 64.4 percent – up 0.7 percentage points, in seasonally adjusted terms. After remaining at 63.7 percent for the last two quarters, the employment rate has increased by 0.9 percentage points from a year ago. This is the highest level since the June 2009 quarter, when the labour market showed the full effect of the recession. 

Over the quarter, the male employment rate increased 0.7 percentage points to 70.2 percent. The female employment rate increased 0.6 percentage points to 58.8 percent, the highest rate since the March 2009 quarter.

In the September 2013 quarter, the number of people employed increased by 27,000 (1.2 percent) in seasonally adjusted terms. This change reflected a rise in both the number of men and women employed.

Over the year to September 2013, the number of people employed rose 2.4 percent (54,000 people) to 2,272,000 people. This is the largest annual percentage change since the December 2007 quarter.

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

Retail trade, and accommodation and food services employment up over the year

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

The main contributors to the annual growth in employment were rises in the retail trade, and accommodation and food services industry group (up 25,200 people – 7.6 percent) and in the construction industry (up 11,200 people – 6.7 percent). These increases were partly offset by a decline in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry group. Employment in this industry group reached its lowest level since September 2009, down 18,300 (12.0 percent) to 138,700 people. However, this fall was exaggerated by an unusually large rise in employment in this industry in the September 2012 quarter.

Full-time employment increases

Over the quarter, both full-time and part-time employment increased. Full-time employment continued to rise – up 17,000 (1.0 percent). While part-time employment increased slightly, it is still not back to levels seen this time last year. The rise in full-time employment reflects more men and women working full-time.

Actual hours worked increase

In the September 2013 quarter, the seasonally adjusted number of actual hours worked per week rose by 1.6 percent and the number of usual hours rose by 2.5 percent, following a sharp fall last quarter. As the growth in actual hours was larger than the employment growth over the quarter, average weekly hours rose by 0.3 percent to 33.5 hours.

Over the year, the growth in the total number of actual hours outpaced employment growth by rising 3.8 percent. The number of usual hours also increased – up 3.4 percent.

Unemployment falls for the quarter

In seasonally adjusted terms, the unemployment rate fell to 6.2 percent in the September 2013 quarter – down 0.2 percentage points from 6.4 percent the previous quarter. Over the year, the unemployment rate fell 1.0 percentage point from a peak of 7.2 percent in the September 2012 quarter.

The number of unemployed people fell by 4,000 to 150,000 in the September 2013 quarter. This fall was entirely from a drop in female unemployment – down 4,000. Accordingly, the female unemployment rate fell 0.4 percentage points to 6.6 percent over the quarter, while the unemployment rate for men remained unchanged at 5.8 percent.

Over the year, the number of people unemployed decreased by 23,000 (13.0 percent).

In unadjusted terms, the drop in unemployment over the year mainly came from a fall in the number of people in long-term unemployment (down 10,400 – 19.0 percent). Long-term unemployment is defined as being unemployed for more than 26 weeks.

Graph, Unemployment rate, quarterly, September 2009 to September 2013.

Labour force participation up over the quarter

In seasonally adjusted terms, the number of people in the labour force increased by 23,000 (1.0 percent) in the September 2013 quarter, reflecting a large rise in employment and a smaller fall in unemployment.

Beneath the rise in the labour force, the likelihood of remaining employed, from one quarter to the next, increased in the September 2013 quarter compared with a year ago. There was also a higher likelihood of moving into employment from being unemployed, indicating more people have shifted from unemployment to employment this quarter. 

As the number of people in the labour force rose and the number of people outside the labour force fell, the participation rate rose by 0.5 percentage points to 68.6 percent in the September 2013 quarter – the third-equal highest level since the series began. Over the year, the participation rate is up 0.2 percentage points. 

Graph, Labour force participation rate, quarterly, September 2009 to September 2013.

Rise in those not in the labour force over the year

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

Over the year, the number of people outside the labour force increased by less than the working-age population. Those outside the labour force increased by 4,700 (0.4 percent) and the working-age population rose by 36,700 (1.1 percent).

The rise in those outside the labour force is a reflection of more people in either study or retirement, up 24,000 and 10,900, respectively. However, the increase in the number of people retiring was not significant. These rises were partly offset by a decrease in the number of people at home looking after children (down 23,900) over the year.

NEET rate continues to decline

In the September 2013 quarter, the seasonally adjusted NEET (not in employment, education, or training) rate for youth (15–24 years) fell 0.7 percentage points to 11.4 percent – the lowest youth NEET rate since the December 2008 quarter. This is the third consecutive quarterly decrease. The youth NEET rate for females decreased 1.5 percentage points to 14.3 percent, while the male NEET rate remained unchanged over the quarter at 8.6 percent. Over the year, the youth NEET rate fell by 2.0 percentage points.

In unadjusted terms, the youth labour force contracted over the year (9,100). The fall mainly reflected a decrease in the number of youth unemployed (6,800). The fall in the labour force coincided with a rise in youth outside the labour force (7,000). The rise reflected an increase in the number of youth solely studying. The proportion of youth solely studying among those not in the labour force increased to 85.8 percent – its highest level since the series began in 2004.  

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

Employment increases for both Māori and Asian ethnic groups

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

Labour market outcomes for the Māori and Asian ethnic groups have improved over the last year. Māori and Asian employment increased over the year – up 12,000 (4.8 percent) and 31,400 (13.0 percent), respectively. In addition, the number of people unemployed decreased by 7,800 (18.0 percent) for Māori and by 7,400 (27.0 percent) for Asian. However, this last change was not statistically significant.

The unemployment rate for Māori fell by 2.9 percentage points to 12.2 percent in the September 2013 quarter. The Asian unemployment rate also decreased during the quarter by 3.3 percentage points to 6.7 percent.

Strong employment growth in Auckland

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

In the year to September 2013, Auckland employment rose by 55,500 people, while unemployment decreased by 12,000 people. The unemployment rate fell 1.9 percentage points to 6.7 percent over the year to September 2013.

The main contributors to Auckland's employment growth were the retail trade, and accommodation and food services industry group (18,400), and the construction (10,100) and manufacturing (9,200) industries. Of these changes, the rise in retail trade, and accommodation and food services employment was not statistically significant.

The working-age population in Auckland increased over the year. The growth in employment was larger than the growth in the working-age population. This meant the employment rate increased to 63.4 percent over the year, up from 62.4 percent in the September 2012 quarter.

Graph, Auckland employment rate, unadjusted, quarterly, September 2009 to September 2013.

Canterbury labour market continues to improve

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

In the year to September 2013, Canterbury employment rose by 6,500 (2.0 percent), unemployment decreased by 3,200 (18.0 percent), and the number of people outside the labour force remained unchanged. These were not statistically significant movements.

The increase in Canterbury employment included a 9,900 rise in the retail trade, and accommodation and food services industry group and a 4,200 rise in the construction industry. However, these increases were partly offset by a 6,700 fall in employment in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry group. Of these changes, the rise in construction employment was not statistically significant.

The total number of actual and usual hours worked per week increased in Canterbury – up 5.4 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively. Usual and actual hours in Canterbury have increased at a greater rate than employment over the year.

Graph, Canterbury average actual hours, quarterly, September 2009 to September 2013.

Labour markets of other regions

The following figures are not seasonally adjusted, and are based on annual changes. These were not statistically significant movements.

Excluding Canterbury and Auckland from the national estimates, employment fell over the year (down 0.7 percent). However, half of the remaining 10 regions had positive employment growth. As the working-age population declined more than employment, the employment rate increased by 0.7 percentage points to 63.7 percent.

Unlike Auckland and Canterbury, employment in the rest of the country declined over the year in the retail trade, and accommodation and food services industry group, and the construction and manufacturing industries. In addition, the agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry group fell during the year.

In the year to September 2013, the average number of actual hours worked per week increased by 0.7 percent to 33.9 hours.

Over the year, the unemployment rate decreased by 0.4 percentage points to 6.4 percent.

Changes to seasonal adjustment

Two changes have been made to our seasonal adjustment series this quarter. We have introduced a moving holiday effect for our hours worked series. This adjusts for when Easter occasionally falls in the March quarter rather than the June quarter, as we saw earlier this year. The second was to make a permanent prior adjustment to the March 2008 and December 2012 quarters. These are discussed in the data quality section.

Impact of the release of 2013 Census information and new population benchmarks

Following each Census of Population and Dwellings, estimates from the HLFS are rebased using information from the census. This is called a population rebase and occurs once new national population estimates are released, as these are the source of the HLFS working-age population estimates.

We expect that the next HLFS population rebase will be in late 2014, or early 2015. This date may change as work plans are firmed up closer to the time.

For the coming population rebase, an improvement will be made to our estimation methodology. We will be implementing regional population benchmarks. The HLFS currently applies two sets of benchmarks: sex by five-year age bands, and Māori by sex for 15–29 and 30 years and over age groups. The new benchmarks will be subnational working-age population estimates for the regional council areas currently published in the HLFS.

Regional benchmarks improve regional estimates in the HLFS and may be introduced earlier if this change does not cause undue disruption to users. However, this would mean implementing HLFS regional estimates based on the 2006 Census. We would then rebase these in late 2014, or early 2015, once the subnational population estimates are available in October 2014.

We are interested in talking to users of regional HLFS data to discuss the impact of implementing new HLFS regional series prior to the full population rebase. Please email hlfs@stats.govt.nz with any comments, questions, or expressions of interest.

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, September 1998 to September 2013.

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

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

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

  • Share this page to Facebook
  • Share this page to Twitter
  • Share this page to Google+
Top
  • Share this page to Facebook
  • Share this page to Twitter
  • Share this page to Google+