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High Employment but Labour Market Eases

Embargoed until 10:45am – 9 November 2006

High Employment but Labour Market Eases

In seasonally adjusted terms, the labour market eased slightly in the September 2006 quarter, with a small fall in the number of employed, Statistics New Zealand said today. The labour market remained relatively tight though, with the number of people employed still the second-highest recorded by the Household Labour Force Survey and the labour force participation rate the third-highest recorded.

The number of people in employment was 2,118,000 for the September 2006 quarter. The decrease of 9,000 (0.4 percent) over the quarter was wholly due to falls in female full-time and female part-time employment. Overall male employment stayed steady. In annual terms, employment growth remained strong at 1.5 percent.

The labour force participation rate remained high at 68.3 percent but eased by 0.4 of a percentage point over the quarter. The decrease was due to a contraction in the labour force of 5,000 (0.2 percent) coupled with a steady increase of 10,000 people (0.3 percent) in the working-age population.

While the number of people in the labour force dropped slightly, the number not in the labour force grew strongly, increasing by 19,000 (1.9 percent) over the quarter. Females contributed over three-quarters of this increase.

Unemployment rose by 4,000 over the quarter – a 5.5 percent increase. This movement was wholly driven by an increase in male unemployment.

The unemployment rate for the September 2006 quarter was 3.8 percent. The increase of 0.2 of a percentage point over the quarter reflects the growth in unemployment and the slight decrease in the size of the labour force. Unadjusted unemployment rates by ethnic group were: 7.6 percent for Māori, 5.1 percent for Pacific peoples, 5.8 percent for the 'Other' ethnic group, and 2.7 percent for European/Pākehā.

Geoff Bascand
Acting Government Statistician


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