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Labour Market Statistics: September 2017 quarter
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  01 November 2017
Key facts

Labour market at a glance

  • Unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent.
  • Underutilisation rate unchanged at 11.8 percent. 
  • Employment rate rises to 67.8 percent.
  • Wage rates grow 1.9 percent.
Employment at a glance (seasonally adjusted)

Sep 2017
 quarter

Quarterly
change
Annual
change
Percent Percentage points
Unemployment rate 4.6 -0.2 -0.3
Employment rate 67.8 +1.1 +1.2
Labour force participation rate 71.1 +1.0 +1.0
(000) Percent
Unemployed 126 -1.2 -2.0
Employed  2,593 +2.2 +4.2
Filled jobs  1,935 +0.2  +2.5 
Working-age population 3,826 +0.6 +2.4
Wages at a glance Index Percent
Wage inflation (salary and wage rates, including overtime)

All sectors 

1153 +0.6 +1.9

Private sector 

1159 +0.7 +1.9

Public sector 

1134 +0.4 +1.5
LCI analytical unadjusted 1276 +0.9 +3.4
   Level Percent 
Average ordinary time hourly earnings $30.45 +1.2 +2.2
Hours at a glance (figures seasonally adjusted)  Level Percent
Average weekly paid hours for FTEs (QES)

Ordinary time 

37.92 +0.1 +0.2

Total

38.70 +0.0 +0.3
   (Million) Percent 
Total weekly paid hours (QES) 60.1 +0.8 +3.0
Total actual weekly hours worked (HLFS) 87.7 +2.4 +4.5

Note:
LCI – Labour Cost Index (salary and wage rates)
QES – Quarterly Employment Survey
HLFS – Household Labour Force Survey

Unemployment, underutilisation, and NEET

In the September 2017 quarter, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent (down 0.2 percentage points from the June quarter), the lowest unemployment rate since the December 2008 quarter. The number of unemployed people fell 2,000 from 128,000 to 126,000. 

  • The unemployment rate for men fell to 4.1 percent (down 0.6 percentage points). 
  • The unemployment rate for women rose to 5.3 percent (up 0.4 percentage points).

The seasonally adjusted underutilisation rate remained at 11.8 percent over the quarter, and dropped 0.5 percentage points annually. This annual decrease was primarily due to fewer available potential jobseekers (those who wanted to work and were available in the reference week, but were not actively applying for jobs).

The underutilisation rate measures the potential labour supply and unmet need for work. An underutilised person may be unemployed, underemployed (wanting more hours), an unavailable jobseeker, or an available potential jobseeker. Looking at the underutilisation rate in combination with the unemployment rate provides a more comprehensive view of New Zealand’s labour market.

The seasonally adjusted not in employment, education, or training (NEET) rate for the 15–24 years age group remained at 11.2 percent over the quarter.

  • The NEET rate for the 15–19 years age group fell to 7.2 percent (down 1.5 percentage points). 
  • The NEET rate for the 20–24 years age group rose to 14.8 percent (up 1.5 percentage points).

Employment and the labour force

Over the year to September 2017, the employment rate increased to 67.8 percent (up 1.2 percentage points), the highest rate since the series began in 1986. This follows a 0.4 percent contraction in the June 2017 quarter.

This increase is a result of employment growth exceeding growth in the working-age population over the year.

The labour force participation rate rose 1.0 percentage points over the quarter to 71.1 percent, as 54,000 more people entered the labour force.

Employment by sex, age, and ethnicity

Over the year to September 2017 (unadjusted), 102,700 more people were employed (up 4.2 percent). Men and women made roughly equal contributions to the annual increase. 

  • Male employment increased 52,400 (up 4.0 percent).
  • Female employment increased 50,300 (up 4.3 percent).

87,700 (85.7 percent) of the growth in employment was from those employed full time.

Over half the annual growth in employment came from those aged 25–39, as employment amongst that age group grew 53,200. There was also statistically significant employment growth for those aged 55–59 and 60–64.

Over the year, the ethnicities that changed significantly in employment were: 

  • Asian – up 36,000 (11.3 percent) 
  • Māori – up 21,900 (7.6 percent) 
  • Other – up 23,000 (114.0 percent). This group is primarily made up of those that self-identify ethnically as New Zealanders. 

Employment by region

In the year to the September 2017 quarter, the greatest employment growth was in the following regions: 

  • Auckland – up 46,800 (5.5 percent) 
  • Waikato – up 21,600 (9.4 percent) 
  • Bay of Plenty – up 13,300 (9.2 percent) 
  • Wellington – up 10,000 (3.5 percent).

The Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay region had the highest unemployment rate in the September 2017 quarter, at 8.8 percent. The Wellington region had the highest employment rate in the September 2017 quarter, at 70.4 percent.

Image, Unemployment rates by regional council area, September 2017 quarter compared with September 2016 quarter.

Image, Employment rates by regional council area, September 2017 quarter compared with September 2016 quarter.

Industry

Annual changes

In the year to the September 2017 quarter, unadjusted employment (as measured by the HLFS) increased over a number of industries. The greatest contributors to annual employment growth were: 

  • professional, scientific, technical, administrative, and support services – up 34,400 (12.0 percent) 
  • construction – up 22,300 (9.9 percent) 
  • public administration and safety – up 12,500 (9.1 percent).

Almost two-thirds of the total increase in the construction industry occurred in the Auckland and Wellington regions.

 

 

Filled jobs (as measured in the QES) increased 2.5 percent (unadjusted) annually, an increase of 46,300 jobs. The three main industries contributing to this growth were:

  • construction – up 18,100 (11.8 percent)
  • retail – up 9,600 (4.9 percent) 
  • accommodation and food services – up 9,500 (6.6 percent).

Quarterly changes

Over the quarter, unadjusted employment (as measured by the HLFS) rose 1.7 percent. The biggest contributors to that growth by industry were: 

  • agriculture, forestry, and fishing – up 13,300 (9.0 percent)
  • construction – up 12,800 (5.4 percent)
  • public administration and safety – up 11,000 (8.0 percent).

By comparison, filled jobs (unadjusted) in the QES fell by 10,100 (0.5 percent) over the September 2017 quarter. Key contributors were: 

  • professional, scientific, technical, administrative, and support services – down 10,500 (3.7 percent) 
  • manufacturing – down 5,900 (3.0 percent).

Differences between the filled jobs in the QES and employment numbers in the HLFS can largely be explained by differences in survey coverage. The QES excludes a number of industries, including agriculture, and those who are self-employed without employees, to better fit international standards. Conversely, the HLFS only includes usually resident New Zealanders, so can exclude some temporary seasonal labourers.

Wages

All the following movements are for the year to the September 2017 quarter.

The LCI salary and wage rates (including overtime) increased 1.9 percent, the largest annual increase since September 2012.

The LCI is a key measure of wage inflation, reflecting changes in the rates employers pay to have the same job done to the same standard.

The analytical unadjusted LCI reflects price change and quality change within occupations, such as individual performance or years of service, as well as changes in salary and wage rates for a fixed quantity of labour. It increased 3.4 percent in the year.

Private sector wage inflation in the year to the September 2017 quarter was higher than that of the public sector. A key contributor was the Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Act 2017, which came into effect on 1 July 2017, and is explored in more depth in Pay deal for care and support workers lifts wages

  • Private sector wages increased 1.9 percent. 
  • Public sector wages increased 1.5 percent.

Within the QES, wages also grew over the year. Average ordinary time hourly earnings increased to $30.45 (up 2.2 percent).

The main contributors to QES wage growth were the professional, scientific, technical, administrative, and support services, and health care and social assistance industries.

The main driver of wage growth in the health care and social assistance industry was the carer pay rise. In the professional, scientific, technical, administrative, and support services industry, earnings increases came partly from normal wage growth and partly from compositional changes, as there were fewer low-paying jobs in that industry in the September 2017 quarter.

In the QES, average weekly earnings (including overtime) for full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) also increased over the year, up 2.5 percent to $1,174.64 per week. This growth reflects both the increase in hourly earnings and the increase in average weekly paid hours worked per FTE over the year.

Childcare in New Zealand 2017

The Childcare in New Zealand 2017 survey is the third major survey of childcare undertaken in New Zealand. The survey was included in the September 2017 quarter HLFS. Previous surveys were carried out in 1998 and 2009.

The Childcare in New Zealand 2017 survey collected information about the use of early childhood education (ECE), out-of-school services (OSS), informal care arrangements (eg grandparents looking after children), subsidy use, and the relationship between the use of ECE, OSS, work, and study arrangements. Results from the survey will be released in the coming months.

Improving Labour Market Statistics CSV files

In response to customer feedback, Stats NZ has sought to improve data available via the Labour Market Statistics CSV file, by making them more machine-readable.

The data has been split into three separate CSV files: HLFS, QES, and LCI. The new HLFS CSV file now includes annual data, and classifications applying to all series in unique columns.

The original Labour Market Statistics CSV file will remain available.

Please send your feedback to info@stats.govt.nz with "Labour Market Statistics improvements" in the subject line.

Liz MacPherson, Government Statistician
ISSN 2422-8699
1 November 2017

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