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Labour Force Projected to Age Further

National Labour Force Projections: 2001(base) – 2051 update

26 September 2005

Labour Force Projected to Age Further

New Zealand's labour force is projected to increase from 2.0 million in 2001 to peak at 2.4 million in the mid-2020s, according to updated 2001-base national labour force projections released by Statistics New Zealand. Nearly half this increase is expected between 2001 and 2006, mainly because of the burgeoning population aged 45 years and over. Beyond 2021, the number of people in the labour force is likely to stabilise as new entrants roughly balance retirements. These figures are from mid-range series 5M, one of nine projection series derived to indicate the potential supply of people available for work and to assist planning for the future.

The projections show further ageing of the labour force. In 1991, half the labour force was aged over 36 years. The median age in 2001 was 39 years, and in 2012 is projected to be 42 years.

Most of the change in the age composition of the labour force results from the general ageing of the population. In 1991, the labour force aged 25–44 years (870,000) was twice as large as the labour force aged 45–64 years (440,000). In 2013, there will be about 910,000 in each age group.

The proportion of the population aged 65 years and over who are in the labour force increased from 6 percent in 1991 to 8 percent in 2001 and is assumed to increase to 13 percent in 2011.

This increasing labour force participation, combined with more people in the older ages, means that the labour force aged 65 years and over is expected to increase from an estimated 25,000 in 1991 and 38,000 in 2001, to 102,000 in 2021.

The labour force comprises people aged 15 years and over who regularly work for one or more hours per week for financial gain, or work without pay in a family business, or are unemployed and actively seeking part-time or full-time work.

Brian Pink
Government Statistician


There is a companion Hot Off The Press information release published – National Labour Force Projections: 2001(base) – 2051 update.

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