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Unemployment down slightly
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  17 August 2016

Labour Market Statistics: June 2016 quarter (includes Household Labour Force Survey)  –  Media Release

This labour market statistics release includes data from the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS), which was delayed from the original publication date of 3 August. The HLFS was recently redeveloped, and the June 2016 quarter results are the first to be published from the new survey.

Unemployment rate down to 5.1 percent

The unemployment rate decreased to 5.1 percent in the June 2016 quarter (from a revised 5.2 percent in the March quarter), Statistics New Zealand said today. Compared with the March 2016 quarter, 1,000 fewer people were unemployed in New Zealand.

The official estimate of unemployment is based on people who are both actively seeking work and available to work, as measured in the HLFS.

Unemployment was also down from where it was a year ago (5.5 percent in the June 2015 quarter), particularly for women.

“Compared with June 2015, there were 8,000 fewer unemployed women, and their unemployment rate fell from 6.2 percent to 5.4 percent,” labour and income statistics manager Mark Gordon said.

In unadjusted terms, unemployment was down from a year ago across many North Island regions, including Auckland, which had an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent in the June 2016 quarter. This is the lowest  rate for the Auckland region since the September 2008 quarter (when it was 4.1 percent).

Employment change comparisons are complex

The June 2016 quarter results indicate that 66.2 percent of the working-age population were employed. Compared with the March 2016 quarter, there were 58,000 more employed people (up 2.4 percent). However, part of this increase reflects improvements to the redeveloped HLFS alongside any real-world increase in employment this quarter. Key changes to the survey included: improved questions about undertaking paid work, which now identify more self-employed people; and the inclusion of members of the armed forces who live in private dwellings.

“The redeveloped HLFS presents a more-accurate and complete picture of the New Zealand labour market. The latest estimates are more in line with the current state of the labour force. However, comparisons with previous estimates will not always be straightforward and should be made with caution,” Mr Gordon said. Employment change comparisons will be clearer in the coming year as more data becomes available.

New underutilisation measure

For the first time, we include an official measure of the underutilisation of labour in New Zealand. This measure provides an indication of the potential labour supply and includes: people who are employed but want to work more hours (underemployed), those who want a job but are not currently actively looking or available to start work, and people who are unemployed by the official definition. A total of 342,000 people were underutilised in the June 2016 quarter, which equates to an underutilisation rate of 12.7 percent.

“In future we will present this measure along with the unemployment measure as a way to better understand the untapped potential in the labour market,” Mr Gordon said.

See Unemployment count changes to meet international standards for more information.


For media enquiries contact: Mark Gordon, Wellington 04 931 4620,
Authorised by Liz MacPherson, Government Statistician, 17 August 2016

Page updated 18 August 2016

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