Unemployment falls to a nine-year low

December Quarter 

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.5 per cent in the December 2017 quarter, down from 4.6 percent last quarter, Stats NZ said today.

“This quarter’s unemployment rate is the lowest since the December 2008 quarter, when it was 4.4 percent,” labour market and household statistics senior manager Jason Attewell said.

“However, the underutilisation rate was just over 12 percent –reflecting about 340,000 New Zealanders with potential to work more. This measure is just as important as the unemployment rate.”

Underutilisation is a measure of the potential labour supply and unmet need for work.

The unemployment rate for the December 2017 quarter remains considerably above New Zealand’s lowest unemployment rate, which was 3.3 percent, recorded a decade ago in the December 2007 quarter, immediately before the global financial crisis.

Unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted, December 2008 to December 2017. Source: Stats NZ

December yearly

Annually, employment increased 3.7 percent, with men and women contributing almost equally to the increase. Nearly one-quarter of employment growth came from 25–29-year-olds, while just over one-fifth came from the 30–34-year-old age group. 

In the year to the December 2017 quarter, unadjusted employment (as measured by the HLFS) increased across a number of industries. The key contributor was the professional, scientific, technical, administrative, and support services industry – up 25,900 (8.5 percent). 

Approximately one-third of the increase in employment for the professional, scientific, technical, administrative, and support services industry occurred in Wellington.

Most of this growth was seen in the sub-industries: architectural, engineering, and technical services (up 4,600); and building, cleaning, pest control, and gardening services (up 1,700).

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