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Labour Force Participation Rises

Household Labour Force Survey: March 2006 quarter
Embargoed until 10:45am — 11 May 2006

Labour Force Participation Rises

The seasonally adjusted Household Labour Force Survey results for the March 2006 quarter show the total labour force grew strongly over the quarter, due to growth in both employment and unemployment, Statistics New Zealand said today. Growth in the total labour force exceeded growth in the working-age population, resulting in a labour force participation rate of 68.5 percent, the highest ever recorded by the survey.

Unemployment growth (9.9 percent) was stronger than employment growth (1.1 percent), resulting in an unemployment rate of 3.9 percent – up 0.3 of a percentage point. Both male and female unemployment rose, taking total unemployment to 86,000.

Employment growth was wholly due to a 1.2 percent increase in full-time employment over the March 2006 quarter. Part-time employment levels remained relatively constant. Both male and female employment increased, growing by 0.5 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively, taking total employment to 2,108,000.

The working-age population grew by 14,300 (0.4 percent) in the March 2006 quarter. This is the largest quarterly increase since December 2003, and was partly driven by a net increase of 3,924 in permanent and long-term migration – the highest since the March 2004 quarter. The number of people not in the labour force dropped by 1.5 percent, to 1,008,000.

In summary, the total labour force grew strongly over the quarter, due to growth in both employment and unemployment. An increase in the working-age population and a decrease in the number of people not in the labour force meant that more people were available for work.

Unadjusted unemployment rates by ethnic group in the March 2006 quarter were: 8.7 percent for Mäori, 7.8 percent for the 'Other' ethnic group, 7.6 percent for Pacific peoples, and 3.2 percent for the European/Päkehä ethnic group.

Brian Pink
Government Statistician


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