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Women in paid work

Women now make up almost half the paid workforce (48 percent of the total), Stats NZ said today, marking International Women’s Day. This compares with about 42 percent in 1986.

About 1.26 million women are in paid work, compared with about 1.40 million men. However, many more women than men are in part-time jobs.

Almost 50,000 of the women who are employed part time (working less than 30 hours a week) want, and are available, to work more hours.

In the December 2018 quarter, the unemployment rate for women was 4.2 percent, while for men it rose to 4.4 percent. This was the first time since June 2010 that the rate was lower for women than men.

“The unemployment rate for women is near the record lows of less than 4 percent we saw in 2007,” Deputy Government Statistician Denise McGregor said.

The difference in women and men’s median hourly earnings is also narrowing.

“Since 1998, the gender pay gap has been trending down. It’s fallen more than 40 percent since then. However, it was still 9.2 percent in the June 2018 quarter,” Mrs McGregor said.

Gender pay gap is second-smallest explores this further.

“Last year, Stats NZ published guidelines for organisations wanting to know more about measuring and analysing their gender pay gaps.”

Organisational gender pay gaps: Measurement and analysis guidelines has more information.



Young women are more likely than ever to be working, learning, or training. The proportion of women aged 15 to 24 years who are not in employment, education, or training (known as NEET) is now just over 10 percent, the lowest rate since records began in 2004.

“In the past, the NEET rate for young women has always been much higher than for young men, but that’s no longer the case,” Mrs McGregor said.

Marriage and child-bearing age shifts upwards

Family life for women has also changed in the last decade, with women marrying and having children a little later in life, or not at all.

The median age (half are older and half are younger) for a woman to marry was 30.5 years in 2017, compared with 30.3 years in 2007.

Women are also having children slightly later. The median age for a woman to give birth to her first child in 2018 was 29 years, compared with 27.7 years in 2008. The fertility rate for women aged under 30 years was the lowest ever in 2018.

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