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Fewer hours worked in 2008

Embargoed until 10:45am – 2 February 2009

Fewer hours worked in 2008

Total paid hours, when seasonally adjusted, decreased by 1.4 percent in the year to December 2008, according to the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) released by Statistics New Zealand today. This is the first annual decrease in paid hours since the year to September 1999, and was mainly due to decreases in the manufacturing, construction, and wholesale trade industries. Seasonally adjusted total paid hours also decreased by 1.4 percent in the December 2008 quarter.

Seasonally adjusted total gross earnings increased by 4.1 percent in the year to December 2008, but did not increase in the December 2008 quarter. This is the first quarter since June 1999 to show no growth in seasonally adjusted total gross earnings.

As total gross earnings increased over the year despite a decrease in paid hours, average total hourly earnings increased by 5.5 percent in the year to December 2008.

Employment, as measured by full-time equivalent employees (FTEs), decreased slightly by 0.8 percent in the year to December 2008.

The labour cost index (LCI), also released today, showed that salary and wage rates (including overtime) were 3.3 percent higher in the December 2008 quarter than in the December 2007 quarter.

This increase is down from a 3.6 percent annual rise for the September 2008 quarter (the largest since the series began in the December 1992 quarter).

In the December 2008 quarter, salary and wage rates (including overtime) increased 0.7 percent, down from a record 1.1 percent increase in the September 2008 quarter.

Geoff Bascand
Government Statistician
2 February 2009


See also the Hot Off The Press information releases Labour Cost Index (Salary and Wage Rates): December 2008 quarter [PDF]and Quarterly Employment Survey: December 2008 quarter [PDF].


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