Wages up, unemployment down

The Government’s efforts to secure the recovery has seen more Kiwis in jobs and higher wages, with unemployment falling to pre-COVID levels and more people in work.

Stats NZ figures show unemployment rate fell to 4 percent in the June quarter from 4.6 percent in the March quarter, the lowest rate since December 2019. This compares with The Treasury’s Budget 2021 Update forecast unemployment rate of 5.2 percent.

Employment rose by 28,000 in the quarter, and the total number of people in work is now 63,000 above where it was in the December 2019 quarter before COVID.

The average hourly wage rose 4 percent to $34.76 an hour, compared with a 3.3 percent rise in inflation, meaning more money in New Zealander’s back pockets.

“This positive result shows the Government’s plan is delivering, giving households and businesses the confidence to spend and invest and accelerate the recovery. An extra 63,000 people are in jobs since September 2020, when unemployment peaked at 5.2 percent,” Grant Robertson said.

“Our focus remains on accelerating the recovery and dealing with the challenges that a fast growing economy brings. Our vaccination programme is ramping up and we’ll have more to say on reconnecting to the rest of the world soon, which will provide further confidence to business as they plan ahead.

“Our critical worker scheme has seen 17,000 people enter New Zealand to support businesses and other organisations to keep the economy moving. We will continue to work with businesses on opportunities to expand the number of people we can bring in to support our recovering economy. We also continue to invest heavily in education, skills and training to build back better.

“The ongoing impact of the pandemic is likely to see unemployment move around a bit. Nevertheless, New Zealand has performed favourably against the countries we measure ourselves against.”

“On comparable measures, New Zealand’s 4 percent unemployment rate stands against 5.2 percent in Australia, 5.9 percent in the United States and 8 percent in Canada. The OECD average is 6.6 percent,” Grant Robertson said.

“The stronger labour market saw another large number of people come off the benefit in the June quarter, with over 31,000 entering paid work,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“Our programmes to assist those who are disadvantaged in the labour market to re-enter the workforce are making a difference. Flexiwage has seen 4,782 people placed into employment, while Apprenticeship Boost has supported over 31,000 into a trade.

“Today’s figures also show a drop in Māori and Pacific unemployment by 1 percent and 2.6 percent respectively, as well as a significant drop in the numbers of young people Not in Education, Employment or Training. 

“While today’s figures are positive and shows our plan is working, we know we have more work to do,” Carmel Sepuloni said.