Employment and Skills

Employment growth – the winners and the losers

Monday March 03, 2014 Mark Cox

Between the start of this century and the end of 2008, employment in New Zealand, as measured by the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS), was trending upwards more-or-less steadily. In fact, total employment increased from 1.787 million in the first quarter of 2000, to 2.228 million in the fourth quarter of 2008: an increase of almost 25 percent.

 

Then the Global Financial Crisis struck.  This propelled the New Zealand economy quickly into recession, and with it came a sharp decline in employment.  In just three quarters, employment fell by 85,000.

 

Since then, employment has recovered by 168,000 to reach 2.311 million by the fourth quarter of 2013.  This was almost 4 percent above the previous peak.

 

 

The focus is on growth compared to the previous peak in 2008 Q4, since some of the growth following the low point in 2009 Q3 could simply be regarded as a bounce back after a precipitous fall.  All the data are from the HLFS.


The table below shows that the number of males in employment increased by more than the number of females in employment.  However, in percentage terms, female employment increased by almost as much.


Perhaps more interestingly, the table also shows that, for both males and females, full-time employment increased by more than part-time employment.    Amongst males, the percentage increase in full-time employment was only slightly greater than the increase in part-time employment.  Amongst females, however, the percentage increase in full-time employment was very much greater than the percentage increase in part-time employment.

 

 

 

Change in employment between 2008 Q4 and 2013 Q4, by status

 

 

Absolute increase (‘000s)

Percentage increase

Male full-time

42.1

4.1

Male part-time

4.6

3.2

Male total

46.7

3.9

Female full-time

31.4

4.6

Female part-time

5.1

1.4

Female total

36.5

3.5

Male plus female full-time

73.5

4.3

Male plus female part-time

9.7

1.9

Male plus female total

83.3

3.7

 

Employment of teenagers has declined (see table below), although many would argue that young people in this age group should be in education or training, rather than employment.  It shows that employment of young adults (aged 20-34) has increased, but that employment of people in the middle groups (aged 35-49) has decreased.

 

The figures show large increases in employment amongst older workers (aged 50 and over).  Even more remarkable is the fact that employment amongst people beyond superannuation age (65 and over) has increased the most, both in absolute and percentage terms.  The employed workforce, as well as the population as a whole, is ageing.

 

 

Change in employment between 2008 Q4 and 2013 Q4, by age group

 

 

Absolute increase (‘000s)

Percentage change

15-19 years

-39.2

-26.2

20-24 years

17.9

8.6

25-29 years

24.5

11.4

30-34 years

15.9

7.4

35-39 years

-31.5

-12.6

40-44 years

-8.6

-3.3

45-49 years

-13.8

-5.1

50-54 years

28.6

12.0

55-59 years

23.1

11.8

60-64 years

29.8

22.2

65 years and over

36.8

40.9

Total all ages

83.3

3.7

 

The table below illustrates the importance of educational qualifications in the labour market.  The biggest gainers during the period in question were people who had Post-school and School qualifications (i.e. mainly tertiary qualifications).  People with School qualifications only also gained.  People with No qualifications, Post-school but no school qualifications (i.e. mainly trade qualifications), or who did not specify experienced significantly reduced employment.

 

 

Change in employment between 2008 Q4 and 2013 Q4, by qualification

 

 

Absolute increase (‘000s)

Percentage change

No qualification

-36.6

-9.5

School qualification

14.4

2.8

Post-school but no school qual

-21.4

-10.9

Post-school and school qual

150.8

14.3

Not specified

-23.3

-30.8

Total

83.3

3.7

 

Auckland’s economy is booming (see table below).  But it also implies that, taking all other regions combined, employment declined by nearly 5,000 during the period in question.  In percentage terms, however, Otago has performed more strongly than Auckland, with employment in the former increasing by almost a quarter in just five years. Apart from Auckland and Otago, the only region where employment increased significantly in percentage terms was Taranaki.

Christchurch’s employment increased marginally, but Wellington’s fell. 

 

 

Change in employment between 2008 Q4 and 2013 Q4, by region

 

 

Absolute increase (‘000s)

Percentage change

Northland

-2.9

-4.2

Auckland

88.2

13.1

Waikato

-14.1

-6.7

Bay of Plenty

-5.7

-4.7

Gisborne / Hawke’s Bay

2.5

2.5

Taranaki

2.9

4.9

Manawatu-Wanganui

-6.2

-5.3

Wellington

-7.2

-2.6

Tasman/Nelson/Marlborough/ W Coast

-0.1

-0.1

Canterbury

1.9

0.6

Otago

25.0

24.4

Southland

-1.0

-1.8

Total

83.3

3.7

 

The table below shows that employment amongst people of Asian ethnic origin has increased dramatically in a very short time, while employment amongst people of all other ethnic origins has decreased slightly.

 

 

Change in employment between 2008 Q4 and 2013 Q4, by ethnic group

 

 

Absolute increase (‘000s)

Percentage change

European

-11.6

-0.7

Maori

-4.3

-1.6

Pacific Peoples

-2.7

-2.4

Asian

76.9

37.3

Note: Respondents could specify more than one ethnic group, or none at all.

 

Expressed as an identikit profile, the person most likely to have benefitted from the recent increase in employment is an older, Asian, tertiary-educated, woman from Auckland, working full-time.   Similarly, the person most likely to have missed out is a teenage, unqualified Pacific female from the Waikato, working part-time.