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Unemployment Rate at 4.4 Percent

Unemployment Rate at 4.4 Percent

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stands at 4.4 percent, according to Statistics New Zealand's September 2003 quarter Household Labour Force Survey. Seasonally adjusted results also show quarterly employment growth of 1.3 percent.

Seasonally adjusted employment has shown an upward trend for four years now, with growth averaging 0.7 percent per quarter over that period. A downward trend in unemployment commenced in December 1998, then slowed over the 2001 to 2002 period. However, the downward unemployment trend appears to have regained momentum over recent quarters, with numbers of unemployed falling to 88,000 in the current quarter, and the unemployment rate averaging 4.7 percent over the year to September 2003.

The working age population has shown strong growth since mid-2001, with more than half of the growth attributable to net gains in permanent and long-term migration. The increasing supply of labour has fed employment growth in response to a strong demand for labour in the economy.

This demand has absorbed the growing labour supply and also drawn from existing groups of both the unemployed and those not in the labour force. The number of people not in the labour force fell this quarter for the first time since March 2002. This is because the increase in the total labour force was greater than the increase in the working age population. Consequently, the labour force participation rate has risen this quarter, and now stands at 66.6 percent.

Other seasonally adjusted results in the September 2003 quarter show an estimated 1,939,000 persons employed (compared with 1,913,000 last quarter and 1,878,000 a year ago). The increase in employment was driven largely by females, and those living in the Auckland region. The seasonally adjusted total labour force stood at 2,027,000 for the September 2003 quarter and the seasonally adjusted number for those not in the labour force was 1,017,000 (compared with 995,000 in the September 2002 quarter).

Unadjusted unemployment rates have fallen for all ethnic groups over the year to September 2003, with Mäori, Pacific peoples, and 'Other' ethnic groups all recording statistically significant falls. The unadjusted unemployment rates in the September 2003 quarter stood at 9.7 percent for Mäori, 6.6 percent for Pacific peoples, 6.1 percent for the 'Other' ethnic group, and 3.3 percent for the European/Päkehä ethnic group.

Brian Pink

Government Statistician

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