Unemployment rate at 3.9 percent


Unemployment rate at 3.9 percent

Media release from Stats NZ
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The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.9 percent in the September 2023 quarter, compared with 3.6 percent last quarter, according to figures released by Stats NZ today.

“The unemployment rate increased over the past year, up from 3.2 percent in the September 2022 quarter,” work and wellbeing senior manager Victoria Treliving said.

The underutilisation rate was 10.4 percent in the September 2023 quarter. This compared with 9.9 percent from the previous quarter, and 8.9 percent from the previous year. Underutilisation is a broader measure of spare labour market capacity than unemployment alone.

“Increases in unemployment and underutilisation over the year indicate increasing spare capacity in the labour market following competitive labour market conditions in 2021 and 2022,” Treliving said.

Higher unemployment and underemployment behind rise in underutilisation

In the September 2023 quarter, the number of people who were underutilised increased by 13,000. Growth in the number of unemployed and underemployed people contributed roughly equal amounts to the increase, up 8,000 and 7,000 respectively. The potential labour force fell slightly by 2,000.

People who are underemployed are those employed part-time who want, and are available for, more work. The potential labour force includes people who want jobs but are either unavailable to start work or are not actively seeking work.

Underutilisation grew the most among young adults. Youth aged 15–24 years accounted for half the total rise in underutilisation over the year – 26,500 out of a total increase of 53,100 (based on non-seasonally adjusted figures).

Compared with the rest of the population, 15–24-year-olds tend to have higher rates of underutilisation. In the September 2023 quarter, the underutilisation rate was 27.0 percent for those aged 15–24, compared with 7.1 percent for the rest of the population.

Employment rate falls -average wage $40 an hour

The employment rate fell to 69.1 percent from a series high of 69.8 percent last quarter. However, the rate remains historically high – the fifth highest rate since the Household Labour Force Survey began in 1986.

“The fall in the employment rate over the quarter reflects two factors – growth in the working-age population and a decrease in the number of employed people,” Treliving said.

The employment rate is the number of employed people as a proportion of the working-age population. The working-age population grew by 31,000 over the quarter, while the number of employed people fell by 6,000.

Household Labour Force Survey results for the September 2023 quarter showed the labour force participation rate was down 0.5pp (percentage points) to 72.0 percent. This rate is derived from labour force divided by working-age population. The employment rate was down 0.7pp to 69.1 percent. This is derived from employed divided by working-age population. The unemployment rate was up 0.3pp to 3.9 percent. This is derived from unemployed divided by labour force. The underutilisation rate was up 0.4pp to 10.4 percent. This is derived from total underutilised divided by extended labour force.

The working-age population was up 31,000 to 4,222,000. This is made up of the labour force, up 2,000 to 3,037,000, and people not in the labour force, up 29,000 to 1,184,000. The labour force is made up of employed people, down 6,000 to 2,919,000, and those unemployed, up 8,000 to 118,000.

Average ordinary time hourly earnings from the Quarterly Employment Survey were up 6.7 percent annually, to $40.40.

Annual wage inflation from the labour cost index was 4.3 percent, for all industries and occupations combined.

Average weekly earnings from the QES were up 5.5 percent annually, to $1,558.