Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Good fall in unemployment rate

Statistics NZ is reporting the unemployment rate has dropped to 5.3%.

It was 6 percent in the September 2015 quarter.

This is the lowest unemployment rate since March 2009.

A quick round-up from tables:

Female unemployment dropped more than male

Big fall for the 20-24 age group but small rise for 15-19

Drops for all ethnicities especially Pacific falling from 13.1 to 9.7%

Big fall in Northland from 8.2 to 6.2%

Only region showing an increase - 4.2 to 4.5% - is Otago

Ag, forestry and fishing recorded biggest employment increase in terms of numbers, followed very closely by construction

Internationally NZ moves from ranking 15th to 10th= in OECD

Bad news for Labour.

Unemployment has been considered one of National's few points of vulnerability.


Anonymous said...

Bad news for labor & bad news for NZ.

Once again, much needed restructuring and reform has been completely avoided by John Key's leftist government,

NZ needs an unemployment rate of nearer 15% than 5% for 3-5 years to even begin on the changes that are desperately required.

Redbaiter said...

I'm a bit disappointed at your posts on this issue Lindsay. I come here because you usually give some interesting insight on statistical reports that the MSM does not.

However with your last two posts it reads like National good Labour bad.

Have you looked at the statistics page? There's stuff there I don't understand. Like why is the Labour force participation rate down? Shouldn't that have risen too?

What's with the two figures for total weekly hours worked? Paid and actual?

If you divide the total weekly paid hours (57.1 million) by the number of employed (2.369 million) you get average weekly working hours of 24.1 only.

So on average the employed NZer only works 24 hours/ week?? This is a sign of a great economy?? It would seem to be incredibly low on a global measure. see

There are other things that puzzle me to, like agriculture being up when milk prices are so bad and dropping. Construction I can believe, with the artificially driven housing market, but I'm not sure that signals good for the long term.

Lastly, there is the layout of the NZ Statistics page, with its "headlines" that look like they need an exclamation mark at the end of each sentence. They seem to have only just restrained themselves from giving a cheer for the National Party as the finisher.

Do you know Liz MacPherson? Maybe she should be asked about these measures. I'd at least like to know why there are the two figures for weekly hours.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Fair enough comment re lack of analysis RB. Pushed for time. Undoubtedly I would prefer a National govt to a Labour/Green one but there are many, many occasions when I have criticized National.

The labour force participation rate reduces for various reasons which aren't necessarily bad. A good economy might mean the main breadwinner can support a partner without her (or him) having to work. As the release mentioned it can be the result of more women staying home to look after children which I thought you would approve of.

"So on average the employed NZer only works 24 hours/ week??"

Maybe but there is a whole lot of part-time work in there. Most of the sole parents returning to work will only be part-time. You could probably work it out from the tables. But my understanding is that internationally New Zealanders work relatively long hours.

As for the tone of Stats releases they are regular format.

Here's a release under Labour for December 2007:

"Household Labour Force Survey: December 2007
quarter Highlights
• Seasonally adjusted employment increased by 23,000 to 2,173,000.
• The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 3.4 percent.
• The seasonally adjusted labour force participation rate increased to 68.8 percent.
• Seasonally adjusted total actual hours worked per week increased 0.8 percent.
The December 2007 quarter Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) recorded a decrease in the
unemployment rate of 0.1 percentage points, to 3.4 percent. This is the lowest unemployment rate recorded since the survey began."


Redbaiter said...

Thanks for your response Lindsay.

After posting the above comment I decided to do a bit of looking around. So far I have not found anything that explains why there are numbers for unpaid hours worked, but I did find an interesting flow chart that explains quite well the relevance of the LFP rate to the unemployment figure.

This is the link -

It says there- "The drop in labour force participation (coupled with a rise in employment) has contributed to the fall in unemployment over the December 2015 quarter. "

14000 dropped out of the labour force last quarter and 61000 over the year.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Some of the confusion arises because the hours come from two different sources. I am not familiar with the QES which estimates demand for labour. But I have participated in the HLFS which is a public survey asking respondents about how much they are working or want to work. However anything you want to understand or learn about the processes is available at the Stats site. Sometimes it takes patience to find it. Websites holding mega amounts of data are difficult to navigate. I pity the poor souls who have to design them.