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Unemployment Rate at 4.6 Percent

Unemployment Rate at 4.6 Percent

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stands at 4.6 percent, according to Statistics New Zealand's December 2003 quarter Household Labour Force Survey. Results show an easing in the strong employment growth seen over the past two quarters, but still reflect tight labour market conditions. Seasonally adjusted figures show quarterly employment growth of 0.1 percent.

Seasonally adjusted employment has shown an upward trend over the past three years, with growth averaging 0.6 percent per quarter. This quarter’s employment figures are not inconsistent with that trend, with quarterly growth of 0.6 percent in the trend series and annual seasonally adjusted growth of 2.7 percent. Driving this quarter’s result is a rise of 0.5 percent in full-time employment, coupled with a fall of 1.4 percent in part-time employment.

Consequently, seasonally adjusted total actual hours worked increased 0.9 percent this quarter. A strong downward trend in unemployment began in early 1999, and continued until September 2001. Since then, levels have decreased overall, but have shown an oscillating pattern, remaining between 89,000 and 108,000. This quarter, levels have increased to 93,000.

The working age population has shown strong growth since mid-2001, although results from the past two quarters have revealed signs of slowing growth. Falling net gains from permanent and long-term migration over recent quarters have contributed to this slow down. Despite these falling net gains in migration, the working age population has increased by more than the labour force has over the past seven quarters, driving a rise of those not in the labour force. The number of people not in the labour force has increased by 0.6 percent to 1,023,000 in the December 2003 quarter, and the labour force participation rate has fallen slightly to 66.5 percent.

Other seasonally adjusted results in the December 2003 quarter show an estimated 1,939,000 persons employed (compared with 1,938,000 last quarter and 1,888,000 a year ago). Male employment rose 3,000 to 1,054,000, while female employment fell 2,000 to 885,000. The seasonally adjusted total labour force stood at 2,032,000 for the December 2003 quarter.

Over the year, unadjusted unemployment rates have fallen for all ethnic groups with the exception of the Pacific peoples ethnic group. The unadjusted unemployment rates in the December 2003 quarter stood at 10.0 percent for Mäori, 8.8 percent for Pacific peoples, 6.9 percent for the 'Other' ethnic group, and 3.2 percent for the European/Päkehä ethnic group.

Brian Pink

Government Statistician

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