More Kiwis in work as rising wages match inflation

Finance Social Development and Employment

The strong economy has attracted more people into the workforce, with a record number of New Zealanders in paid work and wages rising to help with cost of living pressures.

“The Government’s economic plan is delivering on more better-paid jobs, growing wages and creating more opportunities for more New Zealanders,” Grant Robertson said.

Stats NZ reported that employment rose by 4,000 people in the December quarter and 37,000 for the year as business kept adding jobs, leading to a record high number of 2.86 million people in work. The unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percent to 3.4 percent in the quarter as more people made themselves available for work. The average hourly wage rose 7.2 percent to $38.19.

“This is a very positive outcome as growing global pressures weigh on New Zealand this year, with more people in work and rising wages the best response to help New Zealanders dealing with cost of living pressures.

“We are completely focused on the issues that matter most to Kiwis, especially the cost of living. Having more New Zealanders than ever in paid work helps ease some of the pressure that they are under.

“The Government is also pitching in to support Kiwi families at this difficult time, including extending fuel tax cuts and half priced public transport fares, income increases from April 1 for seniors, beneficiaries and those on Working for Families and our childcare package.

“The number of women, Māori and Pacific in the workforce rose over the year, which is an encouraging sign,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“Alongside this youth employment increased strongly, and the number of NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training) fell by 0.3 percent in the quarter.

“These results show more New Zealanders in the workforce and shows that our employment programmes such as Mana in Mahi, Flexiwage and Apprenticeship Boost are working, with more than 100,000 Kiwis moving off benefits into paid work over 2022. That’s 26 percent higher than the number who moved off benefits in the final year that National were in power in 2017.”

On comparable measures, New Zealand’s 3.4 percent unemployment rate stands favourably against 3.4 percent in Australia, 3.6 percent in the UK and United States, and 5.1 percent in Canada. The OECD average is 4.9 percent.

“While unemployment remains low, there’s still plenty to do. We will continue to invest heavily in training up New Zealanders. We are seeing a significant number of people coming into New Zealand through the Accredited Employer Work Visa and the Working Holiday Visa schemes and we are constantly assessing our immigration settings to help fill vacancies in what is a competitive global market for workers,” Grant Robertson said.

“This year is expected to be a tough year for the global economy and New Zealand won’t be immune to the impacts from that. However, we are in a strong starting position with low unemployment and government debt levels substantially below the countries with which we compare ourselves.

“The Government will keep the economy moving in the right direction in this challenging environment and continue to invest in creating a stronger, inclusive and more resilient economy to withstand future shocks,” Grant Robertson said.