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Labour Market Showing Signs of Improvement

Labour Market Showing Signs of Improvement – Media release

9 May 2013

The employment rate rose to 63.7 percent in the March 2013 quarter, up from 62.7 percent in the December 2012 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. The unemployment rate fell to 6.2 percent, down from a revised 6.8 percent last quarter.

There were 38,000 more people employed this quarter – up 1.7 percent. The rise in employment came mainly from full-time employment and was across a range of industries.

"We saw labour market conditions improve over the quarter as employment increased and unemployment fell. This improvement followed a period of weakness over 2012, when employment and labour force participation fell," industry and labour statistics manager Diane Ramsay said. "However, while this is a strong turnaround, the labour market has yet to recover to levels seen at the start of last year."

The number of people unemployed fell by 15,000 over the quarter. "We usually see actual unemployment rise in March quarters as a result of seasonal factors, such as students entering the job market. We didn't see this happen this quarter, and this has resulted in a larger than expected seasonally adjusted quarterly fall," Ms Ramsay said.

The number of people in the labour force rose in the March 2013 quarter. As a result, the labour force participation rate rose 0.6 percentage points to 67.8 percent. Despite increasing over the quarter, participation fell 0.8 percentage points over the year to March 2013. The number of people outside the labour force decreased in the March 2013 quarter.

Over the year Canterbury's labour market has continued to improve, with both employment and participation rising. The region's unemployment rate is now down to 4.3 percent. Excluding Canterbury from the national estimates shows a much weaker labour market, with both the employment rate and labour force participation rate falling over the year.

The Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) is one of several ways of looking at the labour market. The Quarterly Employment Survey: March 2013 quarter also showed an increase in employment. For more information see labour market statistics.

HLFS results are based on a representative sample of 15,000 households throughout New Zealand. The survey is designed to produce reliable estimates of the numbers of people employed, unemployed, and not in the labour force. Its key measures have a margin of error of plus or minus 0.5 percentage points.



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