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Unemployment rate rises to 5.2 percent as labour force grows

Unemployment rate rises to 5.2 percent as labour force grows

1 February 2017

The unemployment rate rose to 5.2 percent in the December 2016 quarter (up from 4.9 percent in the previous quarter) while employment and the labour force continued to grow, Statistics New Zealand said today.

"The December quarter saw a large number of people enter the labour force," labour and income statistics manager Mark Gordon said. "But while the number of people in employment has risen, so has the number of unemployed people ."

This means there were more people available to work, and who had either actively sought work or had a new job to start within the next four weeks.

The labour force participation rate increased 0.4 percentage points over the latest quarter, to reach an all-time high of 70.5 percent.

Over the quarter, 25,900 more people were underutilised (not seasonally adjusted). The increase came from more people being unemployed, and more people actively seeking work but not currently being available to work.

Employment grew 0.8 percent in the December 2016 quarter, with 19,000 more people being employed. This followed a 1.3 percent increase in employment in the September 2016 quarter.

Full-time employment rose 1.6 percent in the December quarter, with an extra 32,000 people being employed full-time. In contrast, part-time employment fell 2.2 percent, down 12,000 people.

The retail trade, accommodation, and food services industry was the largest contributor to employment growth over the latest quarter. This was followed closely by the construction and the professional services industries.

"Although employment has grown, the growth in wages has remained steady," Mr Gordon said. Annual wage inflation, as measured by the labour cost index, was 1.6 percent in the December 2016 quarter. Annual wage inflation has been 1.5 to 1.6 percent for the last seven quarters.

Average hourly earnings, as measured by the Quarterly Employment Survey, increased 1.3 percent for the year, the lowest increase since the year to the September 2010 quarter.

Note: There is no evidence of any significant effect on the estimates due to the 14 November 2016 earthquake.

For more information about these statistics:

• Visit Labour Market Statistics: December 2016 quarter

ends

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