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Job Numbers Hold Steady In March

Job numbers remained steady in March 2020, ahead of the COVID-19 lockdown at the end of the month, Stats NZ said today.

New Zealand moved to alert level 4 at 11:59 pm on 25 March, when all but essential businesses shut temporarily, though many people continued to work from home.

In seasonally adjusted terms, total filled jobs rose 0.1 percent in March 2020 compared with February 2020, when it was flat.

"Any impacts of COVID-19 on jobs are not yet being seen in this employment indicator," economic statistics manager Sue Chapman said.

“The lockdown didn’t occur until the last week of March, so we’re expecting limited impact on this month’s numbers. We calculate filled jobs by averaging weekly jobs paid during the month.”

“Filled jobs include jobs paid by employers who are being subsidised by the COVID-19 wage subsidy scheme.”

The government has so far paid over $10 billion under the wage subsidy scheme to enable employers to retain their employees.

The data comes from payday filing data sent to Inland Revenue by employers.

By broad industry, filled jobs in the primary industries rose 0.4 percent. Goods-producing industries rose 0.5 percent, while services industries had no movement.

Gross earnings

Gross earnings paid to employees in March 2020 were $11.7 billion. This compares with $10.6 billion paid in March 2019.

"Gross earnings are relatively inconsistent on a monthly basis, due to payday timings and how they occur within each month, but quarterly figures show a clearer picture," Ms Chapman said.

Seasonally adjusted gross earnings for the March 2020 quarter were down 1.9 percent ($673 million). This compares with a 3.2 percent increase in the December 2019 quarter.

Additional data released

Stats NZ has released the following additional data to help better inform on the impacts of COVID-19 on jobs and earnings in the economy.

  • Filled jobs data for most lower-level industries (Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) 2006 divisional levels). This is actual data only, from May 2019 to March 2020. See Employment indicators: March 2020 and access the filled jobs CSV file under 'Download data'.
  • Gross earnings series for the three broad industry groups (primary, goods-producing, and services) – previously only an all-industries series was published. On Infoshare, go to Work, income and spending, then Employment indicators – MEI.

COVID-19 data portal

provides other labour market indicators including jobseeker support benefits and wage subsidy assistance.

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