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New Zealand – Strong labour market growth reported and expected to continue

28 February 2014

Data from the December 2013 quarter indicates that economic recovery in New Zealand is continuing to translate into an improved labour market situation, with growth no longer concentrated in a small number of regions or sectors, according to the latest Labour Market Report from the Department of Business, Innovation, and Employment.

In the most recent Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) total employment increased by 66,000 workers between December 2012 and December 2013, equating to a year-on-year rise of +3%, the largest annual increase since June 2006.

At an industry level, annual employment growth was concentrated in professional, scientific, technical, administrative & support services, and retail trade & accommodation. At a regional level growth was strongest in Auckland and Canterbury, although even if those regions were excluded New Zealand would still have seen employment growth over the year. 

The employment rate rose to 64.7% in December 2013, its highest level since March 2009. The labour force participation rate increased to 68.9%: the second highest level since the HLFS series began in 1986. 

The unemployment rate decreased from 6.2% to 6% in the December 2013 quarter, with total unemployed falling by 2,000 to 147,000. This is the lowest unemployment rate since June 2009. Over the year to December 2013 the number of people unemployed decreased by 14,000, an 8.9% fall. 

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment forecasted in January 2014 that employment growth will be +2.6% in the year to March 2014, increasing to +2.7% in the year to March 2015. The unemployment rate is expected to decline to 5.9% in March 2014, then drop further to 5% by March 2015 in association with stronger employment growth.

To read the full report, please click here.   

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