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Labour Force Survey: December 2005 quarter

Household Labour Force Survey: December 2005 quarter — 9 February 2006

Labour Market Still Tight but Signs of Easing

The seasonally adjusted Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) results for the December 2005 quarter show a continuation of the tight labour market conditions experienced in recent quarters, Statistics New Zealand said today. However, following strong employment growth in recent quarters, there are now some signs of an easing in the labour market, with a slight decrease in the number of people employed.

The unemployment rate now stands at 3.6 percent – a drop of 0.1 of a percentage point from the revised September 2005 quarter figure.

Employment fell slightly by 1,000 (0.1 percent) in the December 2005 quarter. Employment of males increased by 0.5 percent over the quarter while female employment decreased by 0.7 percent. Full-time employment fell by 9,000 (0.6 percent) and part-time employment rose by 11,000 (2.4 percent). Total actual hours worked fell by 1.5 percent over the quarter in line with the decrease in full-time employment.

The working-age population increased by 12,500 (0.4 percent) this quarter. While this was the highest quarterly increase since December 2004 quarter, in annual terms it is the smallest increase since December 2001.

The number of people not in the labour force increased by 1.1 percent, absorbing all of the increase in the working-age population, while the total labour force decreased by 3,000 (0.1 percent) over the quarter. This resulted in a decrease in the labour force participation rate of 0.3 of a percentage point to 67.8 percent.

In summary, the labour market remained tight in the December 2005 quarter, but is showing signs of easing, with little change in the numbers of employed and unemployed. The unemployment rate is the equal lowest recorded, and the labour force participation rate is the second highest recorded, since the survey began in March 1986.

Unadjusted unemployment rates in the December 2005 quarter stood at 7.6 percent for Mäori, 6.2 percent for Pacific peoples, 5.8 percent for the 'Other' ethnic group, and 2.5 percent for the European/Päkehä ethnic group.

Brian Pink

Government Statistician

ENDS

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