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Unemployment rate falls, but little growth in employment
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  09 February 2012

Household Labour Force Survey: December 2011 quarter  –  Media Release

There were 7,000 fewer people unemployed in the December 2011 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. This saw the unemployment rate fall to 6.3 percent, from 6.6 percent in the September quarter.

There was an increase of 3,000 in the number of people employed, while the employment rate remained unchanged at 63.9 percent.

“We saw a steady employment rate because the increase in the number of people employed kept pace with the growing working-age population. The employment rate has not changed for three consecutive quarters,” industry and labour statistics manager Diane Ramsay said.

Part-time employment rose 3.0 percent in the December quarter. In unadjusted terms, the largest annual increase in part-time employment was in the education and training industry.

In contrast, full-time employment fell 0.8 percent. “A sharp rise in male full-time employment in the September quarter exaggerated the fall in full-time employment this quarter. Although there was a fall over the December quarter, full-time employment increased slightly over the year,” Ms Ramsay said.

These changes in full-time and part-time employment were reflected in a fall in the hours worked. Both actual hours and usual hours worked fell –1.4 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively. The fall in actual hours follows a September quarter peak in actual hours that was similar to that for male full-time employment.

The number of people not in the labour force rose 11,000 in the December 2011 quarter. Compared with the December 2010 quarter, unadjusted figures showed the largest increases were in the 20–24 and 65+ years age groups. These increases reflected a rise in the number of younger people choosing to study and an ageing population.

The Household Labour Force Survey results are based on a representative sample of 15,000 households throughout New Zealand. The survey is designed to produce estimates of the numbers of people employed, unemployed, and not in the labour force.

Geoff Bascand
Government Statistician

9 February 2012 
END

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