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Financial News: New Zealand Unemployment Rate Drops To 4.9%

New Zealand Unemployment Rate Drops To 4.9%

05/02/2017 - 19:45:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - The jobless rate in New Zealand came in at a seasonally adjusted 4.9 percent in the first quarter of 2017, Statistics New Zealand said on Wednesday.

That was beneath estimates for 5.1 percent and down from 5.2 percent in the previous three months.

The employment change was 1.2 percent on quarter, again topping forecasts for 0.8 percent and up from 0.7 percent in the three months prior.

On a yearly basis, the employment change saw a jump of 5.7 percent - exceeding expectations for 5.3 percent after adding 5.8 percent in the previous quarter.

Men provided the main contribution to this increase, with more males in both full-time and part-time employment.

"In the March quarter, 6,000 fewer people were unemployed," labor market and household statistics senior manager Mark Gordon said. "The unemployment rate for men fell from 4.8 percent to 4.2 percent, making it the lowest rate since the December 2008 quarter. However, the unemployment rate for women was unchanged."

Unemployed people are those who are available to work, and who had either actively sought work or had a new job to start within the next four weeks, the bureau noted.

For the sixth quarter in a row, employment growth exceeded growth in the working-age population (which was 0.7 percent). This meant New Zealand's employment rate was up by 0.3 percentage points, to 67.1 percent.

Filled jobs (as measured by the Quarterly Employment Survey) increased 2.4 percent on year. The accommodation and food services, and construction industries contributed almost half this increase - 32,300 more jobs.

"We're also starting to see construction employment build in regions other than Auckland and Canterbury," Gordon said.

Annual wage inflation, as measured by the labor cost index, held steady at 1.6 percent in the March 2017 quarter. Over the same time period, inflation increased 2.2 percent.

For the third quarter in a row, private sector wage inflation was lower than public sector inflation (1.5 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively). The growth in private sector wages was the lowest it has been since the June 2010 quarter.

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