Unemployment rate holds steady as wages grow

Record-high rates reported for employment, labour force participation

Unemployment rate holds steady as wages grow

New Zealand's unemployment rate remained at 3.3% in the September quarter, according to Stats NZ, as the country recorded record-high employment and labour force participation rates. Data from Stats NZ revealed that labour force participation rate went up to 71.7% and employment rate increased to 69.3%. Women also posted record-high figures for labour force participation (67.4%) and employment rate (64.9%).

"Women's labour force participation rate was much lower than men's in the 1980s, but has grown faster over the last 30 years, and reached a new series high this quarter," said Becky Collett, work and wellbeing statistics senior manager at Stats NZ.

Read more: Women in leadership roles more prone to workplace harassment

Meanwhile, the underutilisation rate – or the measure of spare labour capacity – dipped slightly to 9% in the September 2022 quarter.

"Unemployment and underutilisation rates have been sitting at or near record lows for more than a year," Collett said.

Job security

Despite massive feelings of job insecurity across the world, 52.8% of New Zealand workers remained confident that they won't lose their jobs or business in the next 12 months. According to Collett, the strong feelings of job security coincided with the higher number of people working in permanent roles.

Read more: Job insecurity: How to reassure your employees

Wages go up

In terms of wages, Stats NZ reported that average ordinary time hourly earnings increased by 7.4% in the September quarter, while wage inflation was 3.7%.

Darren Allan, senior manager at Stats NZ, said this is the "largest annual rise in ordinary time hourly earnings" since the record began in 1989.

"This is a very positive outcome. Unemployment is low, more people than ever are in work and wages are growing faster than inflation to help them meet cost of living pressures," said Finance Minister Grant Robertson. "This is something worth celebrating and shows our economic plan is working for New Zealanders despite the challenging global environment."

Read more: Employers react: Fair Pay Agreement Act passes third reading

Robertson, however, also acknowledged the worker shortage challenging employers.

"We will continue to invest heavily in skills and training while attracting overseas workers with the skills we need. Our Immigration reset is making a difference, with more than 71,000 positions being approved to recruit overseas workers and help address workforce pressures," he said.

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