December 2018 quarter unemployment increased to 4.3 percent, up from 4.0 percent in the September 2018 quarter while annual ordinary time hourly earnings for 2019 increased 3.1 percent.
New Zealand’s labour market statistics for December 2018 quarter released on 7 February 2019 by Statistics New Zealand showed that for the December 2018 quarter unemployment increased to 4.3 percent, up from 4.0 percent in the September 2018 quarter. This increase in the unemployment rate ends the run of decreasing or constant unemployment rates that New Zealand experienced since the December 2016 quarter, when an increase in the unemployment rate was last observed.
Despite total number of people employed increasing by 2,000 the escalation in the unemployment rate has been driven by a 12,000 person increase in the labour force in the quarter compared to the September 2018 quarter. This has seen the total number of unemployed increase by 10,000 in the December 2018 quarter. This largely reflects an increase of 8,000 more men being unemployed while there were 2,000 more unemployed women compared to the September 2018 quarter.
As a result of the increase in unemployed males, for the first time since the June 2010 quarter the unemployment rate was lower for women than men. The unemployment rate for men rose to 4.4 percent (up from 3.9 percent in the September 2018 quarter), while for women, it rose to 4.2 percent (up from 4.0 percent).
Quarterly Economic Survey results for the December 2019 quarter show that wages grew over 2019. On an annual basis average ordinary time hourly earnings increased 3.1 percent, to $31.63.
Over the year, private sector average ordinary time hourly earnings increased 3.7 percent to $29.66. This increase was led by the retail sector and was partly due to the minimum wage increase in April 2018.
For the same period, the public sector saw an increase in hourly earnings of 1.8 percent to $39.54. Hospitals were the key contributor to this annual increase. Healthcare saw an increase of $1.26 per hour (4.0 percent) driven, in part, by the remaining two-thirds of the nurses’ pay settlement coming into effect in August 2018.
Annually, alongside healthcare, the industries with the largest contributions to the growth in Quarterly Economic Survey average ordinary time hourly earnings were:
- professional, scientific, technical, administrative, and support services industry – up $1.48 (4.3 percent)
- healthcare – up $1.26 (4.0 percent)
- construction – up $1.22 (4.3 percent).
Average weekly earnings (including overtime) for full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) in the December 2019 quarter Quarterly Economic Survey increased 2.9 percent to $1,227.85.