Work force grows despite youth unemployment

According to Statistics New Zealand, the unemployment rate fell to 4.9% in the September 2016 quarter. This is the lowest unemployment rate since the December 2008 quarter.

There were 3,000 fewer people unemployed than in the June 2016 quarter and 10,000 fewer over the year.

Labour and income statistics manager Mark Gordon says, “The number of people employed in New Zealand was up 35,000, or 1.4 percent, in the September 2016 quarter. This strong growth in employment, coupled with fewer unemployed people, pushed the unemployment rate below 5.0% for the first time in nearly eight years.

The increase in the number of people employed again exceeded population growth over the latest quarter. This resulted in the employment rate increasing 0.5% points, so currently 66.7% of the working-age population is in some form of employment.”

The rental, hiring, and real estate services industry had a significant increase in unadjusted employment over the quarter, with 5,000 more people employed. Significant increases for this industry occurred in the Auckland, Wellington, and Manawatu-Wanganui regions.

Despite the overall trend, New Zealand Council of Trade Union Economist Bill Rosenberg highlights concerns with regard to a decrease in youth employment.

He says, "Youth employment has also taken a downward turn. The proportion of people aged 15 to 24 not in employment, education or training has worsened since June (after taking account of seasonal effects) from 10.0 percent to 11.1 percent of the working age population.” 

Rosenberg remains sceptical of the latest figures on unemployment.

"While a small reduction in unemployment is welcome, it is much too slow. That is still 128,000 officially looking for work, and worse than when this Government started eight years ago. Treasury says the rate should be 4.0 percent which equates to 105,000 people unemployed, or 23,000 more people at work. It has been as good as 3.3 percent in December 2007, which would mean 41,000 more people at work.

In addition there are 203,200 people looking for work but not satisfying the official definition of ‘unemployment’, or working part time but wanting more work – a total of 329,000 people not getting the work they want."