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Unemployment Rate At 5.4 Percent

Household Labour Force Survey: December 2001 Quarter

Statistics New Zealand's December 2001 quarter Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) shows growth in the overall labour supply, with a rise of 14,400 (0.5 percent) in the working age population. A major part of this increase can be attributed to a net gain of 9,200 from permanent and long-term migration to the working age population. Growth in the labour supply has resulted in a rise in the numbers recorded as employed and unemployed, and in an increase in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to 5.4 percent. This increase in the unemployment rate follows six consecutive quarters of an either unchanged, or declining, unemployment rate.

Both the labour force participation rate and the unemployment rate grew in the December 2001 quarter. The labour force participation rate rose to 66.4 percent. The last time the participation rate was this high was in the March 1987 quarter. The unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percent to 5.4 percent. Seasonally adjusted figures show that the level of employment increased by 16,000 (0.9 percent) and the level of unemployment rose by 5,000 (5.0 percent). The seasonally adjusted figures for those not in the labour force decreased by 10,000 (1.0 percent).

Over the year the unemployment rate fell by 0.2 percentage points while the labour force participation rate increased by 0.6 percentage points. From the December 2000 quarter, seasonally adjusted figures show unemployment dropped by 2,000 (1.9 percent), employment grew by 41,000 (2.3 percent), while the levels of full-time and part-time employment were up by 25,000 (1.8 percent) and 16,000 (4.0 percent) respectively.

All ethnic groups except 'Other' showed a decline in their respective unemployment rates over the year. The surveyed (unadjusted) unemployment rates for the December 2001 quarter were 3.7 percent for European/Päkehä; 12.9 percent for Mäori; 9.9 percent for Pacific peoples and 8.4 percent for the 'Other' ethnic group. This order has remained the same for most of the last four years.

Brian Pink
Government Statistician

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