The labour force continues its steady growth. This from Labour Market Statistics for the March 2016 quarter, released on 4 May. The working age population expanded at a record quarterly rate. People continue to show strong participation in the labour market.
Compared with a year ago, when the labour market was making all-time records, the overall employment rate has decreased by 0.3 percentage points (pp) to 65.1% and the overall unemployment rate has fallen by 0.1pp to 5.7%.
Has the labour market cooled? Maybe. Is it just taking a breather? The working age population showed its second wind and clocked up a rise of 29,000 (0.8%) to reach 3,685,000 in the March 2016 quarter. This was the largest quarterly growth ever recorded. In March 2016, 69.0% of the working age population were working or looking for work. This performance is close to the all-time record level of 69.5% in December 2014.
Over the March 2016 quarter, working in tandem, the working age population and the participation rate together boosted the labour force (employed plus unemployed) by 38,000, seasonally adjusted. About 9,000 people jumped inside the labour force, from being outside (not employed and not seeking work). Numbers are telling us people are seeing opportunities. But where and for whom?
Looking back over the year, the number employed increased by 47,000 to 2,399,000, with the increase almost evenly split between males and females.
Auckland helped shunt employment growth in the year to March 2016. Its rise in construction employment of 17,500 accounted for 49% of the total employment increase.
Performance across the regions from a year ago varied. Employment rates (numbers employment as a percentage of the working age population) for regional council areas, increased the most for the Manawatu-Whanganui region (2.7pp) and decreased the most for the Otago region (2.8pp).
Compared with March 2015, the unemployment rate for people of European ethnicity was unchanged at 4.5%, that for Māori increased by 0.2pp to 12.8%, that for Pacific peoples fell by 2.3pp to 10.2%, and that for Asians increased by 0.9pp to 8.3%.
In the year to March 2016, the average number of young people, aged 15 years to 24 years, who are not in employment education or training, expressed as a percentage of their population was 11.5%. This is similar to rates for the preceding two years.