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Household Labour Force Survey Estimated Working-age Population: June 2020 Quarter

The household labour force survey estimated working-age population table shows the population benchmarks used to produce household labour force survey estimates for the upcoming labour market statistics release.

On 5 August 2020, as part of the Labour market statistics: June 2020 quarter release, we will revise historical household labour force survey data from the September 2018 quarter to the March 2020 quarter to account for the latest national population estimates. As such, figures published this quarter may differ from those previously published. Going forward, HLFS benchmarks will be revised quarterly to incorporate revisions to official migration estimates. This will see benchmarks revised over seven quarters before becoming final.

The difference in the working-age population between March 2020 and June 2020 is outlined in table 3 of this release.

Impact of COVID-19 on population estimates

HLFS target population estimates are derived from the national population estimates by applying exclusions to match the working-age population definition. National population estimates are derived each quarter by updating estimates from the latest census-base estimated resident population with estimates of births, deaths, and net migration for the quarter.

Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and unusual travel patterns, provisional migration estimates for recent quarters (September 2019 to March 2020) are subject to more uncertainty than usual. Border restrictions and widespread flight cancellations related to COVID-19 meant many people who arrived in New Zealand in recent quarters were unable to leave. The prolonged stay of people arriving in New Zealand may cause an initial overestimation of migrant arrivals and net migration for recent quarters. How much provisional migration estimates are revised in the coming quarters depends on when international travel resumes in earnest, and whether people who arrived in recent quarters choose to depart New Zealand or extend their stay.

Due to timing requirements, initial provisional migration estimates for the benchmarks are usually based on an auto-regressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) forecast. However, the global pandemic has led to border restrictions, reduced international flights, and a substantial drop in arrivals and departures since March 2020. As a result, net migration was assumed to be zero in the June 2020 quarter for benchmark purposes, rather than using the usual extrapolative method. This assumption has been vindicated by subsequent official migration estimates.

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