Latest stats on unemployment released
And how the workforce has returned post-Covid 19
Unemployment rates in New Zealand have risen faster than expected recently, with the rate now standing at 3.6% in the June 2023 quarter, up from the previous rate of 3.4% in the March quarter, per a new Stats NZ report.
New Zealand’s economy has been impacted by numerous factors such as global market forces, an aging population, and the COVID-19 pandemic, yet the overall unemployment rate has remained relatively stable, until now.
Although this may seem alarming, it’s worth noting that most people are still finding work, with the tourism industry in particular climbing back to employment levels similar to before the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Stats NZ, approximately 275,300 people are now employed within the tourism sector – about 9.5% of the working population.
Despite increases in unemployment and underemployment rates, labour market figures reveal that most new entrants to the workforce, including immigrants, are still securing job positions. The large number of newcomers to the workforce has driven unemployment rates up.
The overall working-age population’s employment rate increased to 69.8% in the June quarter, up from 69.5% in March.
A broader measure of unemployment – the underemployment rate increased from 9.1% in March quarter to 9.8% during the June quarter but continues to remain low when compared with historical averages, according to Stats NZ wellbeing manager Becky Collett.
The underutilisation rate has been fuelled by the growing number of underemployed part-timers who want and are available to work more hours.
Average hourly earnings across both private and public sectors (excluding overtime) witnessed a rise of 6.9% over the year until the 2023 June quarter.
Although above inflation rates, this increase is significantly lower than the 7.6% annual increase recorded in the March quarter.
As such, wage growth remains robust, but it did fail to meet market forecasts.
Despite the rise in unemployment figures, strong employment growth and continuous job opportunities for new entrants to the workforce are positive signs for New Zealand’s labour markets.