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Quarterly Employment Survey: September 2012 quarter
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  06 November 2012
Commentary

Employment and hours figures in this release are seasonally adjusted unless otherwise stated. Earnings figures in the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) and labour cost index (LCI) releases are not seasonally adjusted.

Number of jobs flat for the quarter, rises over the year

Demand for labour by businesses was subdued over the September 2012 quarter. The number of filled jobs rose 0.3 percent from the previous quarter, while the number of full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) fell 0.1 percent. A fall in full-time employment (down 0.3 percent) offset a rise in part-time employment (up 0.4 percent). This caused the number of FTEs to fall while the number of filled jobs rose.

Job numbers continued to rise over the September 2012 year. The number of filled jobs rose 1.4 percent and the number of FTEs rose 1.6 percent during this period. The annual rise in unadjusted filled jobs came mostly from these three industries:

  • accommodation and food services (up 9.5 percent)
  • wholesale trade (up 8.7 percent)
  • construction (up 5.7 percent).

Graph, Employment, annual change, September 2002 quarter to September 2012 quarter.

QES and LCI salary and ordinary time wage rates rise

Average ordinary time hourly earnings as shown in the QES results rose 2.8 percent for the September 2012 year. The two industries that made the biggest contribution to this rise were:

  • professional, scientific, technical, administrative, and support services
  • manufacturing.

Annual percentage changes in salary and ordinary time wage rates vary between the QES and LCI measures.

According to the LCI, salary and ordinary wage rates rose 1.9 percent over the same period, and the analytical unadjusted series rose 3.2 percent.

Graph, Annual percentage change in salary and ordinary time wage rates, September 2007 quarter to September 2012 quarter.

QES average earnings statistics are often compared with LCI salary and ordinary time wage rates. However, QES average earnings statistics reflect not only changes in salary and wage rates, but also compositional changes between and within businesses in surveyed industries. In comparison, the LCI measures changes in salary and wage rates for a fixed quantity (eg number of hours worked per week) and quality (eg experience and qualification) of labour input. The LCI analytical unadjusted series fixes the quantity of labour, but reflects quality change within the occupations in addition to price change.

See the Data quality section for more information.

Average earnings grow over the year

Average ordinary time hourly earnings rose 2.8 percent (74 cents) over the September 2012 year.

All industries contributed to the overall rise, but the biggest contributors were professional, scientific, technical, administrative, and support services (up 4.0 percent to $31.70), and manufacturing (up 3.7 percent to $25.74).

Average ordinary time hourly earnings rose in both the private sector (up 3.0 percent) and the public sector (up 2.6 percent).

Average ordinary time weekly earnings (by FTE) rose 3.0 percent over the year (about $30 a week). Again, the major contributors to this rise were:

  • professional, scientific, technical, administrative, and support services
  • manufacturing.

Increases in average earnings within these industries made up a third of the overall rise.

Seasonal swing in average earnings over the quarter

Average ordinary time hourly earnings rose over the quarter (up 1.1 percent). The September quarter typically experiences a large seasonal shift upwards. In the September 2011 and 2010 quarters, average ordinary time hourly earnings rose 1.2 percent and 1.0 percent, respectively.

Hours flat in September, up for the year

Seasonally adjusted total weekly paid hours fell 0.3 percent for the September 2012 quarter. This follows a rise of 2.1 percent for the June 2012 quarter.

For the September 2012 year, seasonally adjusted total weekly paid hours rose 1.9 percent. The two industries with the biggest unadjusted rise in total weekly paid hours were construction (up 9.2 percent) and accommodation and food services (up 8.1 percent).

Graph, Annual percentage change in total weekly paid hours, September 2007 quarter to September 2012 quarter.

Canterbury continues to show signs of job growth

In Canterbury, the number of filled jobs rose 1.0 percent for the September 2012 year. Full-time employment rose 3.1 percent, while part-time employment fell 3.2 percent.

Industries with the largest annual rises in filled jobs in Canterbury over the year were:

  • construction
  • arts, recreation, and other services
  • accommodation and food services.

The largest annual falls were in these industries:

  • health care and social assistance
  • manufacturing.

The June 2011 quarter was the first quarter to show the effects of the February 2011 earthquake. The number of filled jobs has yet to reach pre-earthquake levels.

In the rest of New Zealand (excluding Canterbury), filled jobs rose 1.5 percent over the same period. Full-time employment rose 1.8 percent and part-time employment rose 0.4 percent.

Graph, Annual change in Canterbury and non-Canterbury filled jobs, September 2002 quarter to September 2012.

Related measures

The QES measures the average gross earnings paid to employees. From this information we can calculate wage rates such as average hourly and average weekly earnings.

A reduction in personal tax rates coincided with the increase in GST (from 12.5 percent to 15 percent) on 1 October 2010. Since the QES measures changes in gross average hourly and weekly earnings, it did not reflect the reduction in income tax rates.

However, the increase in GST did impact on the consumers price index (CPI).This affected annual CPI movements from the December 2010 quarter to the September 2011 quarter. The graph below shows what the annual CPI percentage increases would be if prices collected from the December 2010 quarter to the September 2011 quarter were processed with GST of 12.5 percent for goods and services that are subject to GST. The latest CPI annual increase of 0.8 percent does not include the effects of the GST increase (see Consumers Price Index: September 2012 quarter).

Graph, Annual percentage change in CPI and QES, September 2007 quarter to September 2012 quarter.

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

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