Unemployment falls to lowest level on record

Finance Social Development and Employment

Unemployment has fallen to its lowest level on record as the hard work of business and workers along with the Government’s actions to support the economy during the Delta outbreak resulted in more people in work and higher wages.

Stats NZ figures show the unemployment rate fell to 3.2 percent in the December quarter from 3.3 percent in the September quarter, down 5,000 to 93,000 classed out of work. That is 34 percent below where it was a year ago.

New Zealand’s unemployment rate is the fifth-equal lowest in the OECD.

Employment rose by 27,700 in the quarter. The total number of people in work is now 117,300 above where it was in the December 2019 quarter before COVID.

The average hourly wage rose 3.8 percent to $35.61 an hour.

“This is again an extremely positive result as businesses showed their confidence in the economy and continued to hire despite the impacts of higher alert level restrictions. It shows the Government’s strong health response continues to be to the right one for our economy,” Grant Robertson said.

“Unemployment is likely to move around a bit due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic. However, our balanced approach has put us in a strong position as we continue to adjust and evolve our response to keep New Zealanders safe and protect livelihoods in what is a volatile and uncertain environment.

“The results also show New Zealand has performed favourably against the countries we measure ourselves with.

“On comparable measures, New Zealand’s 3.2 percent unemployment rate stands against 4.6 percent in Australia, 4.1 percent in the United Kingdom, 4.2 percent in the United States and 6.2 percent in Canada. The OECD average is 5.5 percent,” Grant Robertson said.

“Today’s figures show a promising improvement in the number of young people Not in Employment, Education and Training,” Carmel Sepuloni said. “The quarterly fall of 1.4 percent is a significant one and it shows we are making progress.

“The Government has created interventions aimed at younger people, these include Flexiwage, Apprenticeship Boost, Māori Trades Training, Mana in Mahi and He Poutama Rangatahi. It is good to see our proactive actions in this area are making a difference and helping young people reach their full potential. 

“We recognise that despite the pandemic some sectors face labour shortages. We have adjusted immigration settings in response such as extending working holiday visas and seasonal employment work visas. Our critical worker scheme and the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme has approved 24,000 people to enter New Zealand to support businesses and other organisations to keep the economy moving, The one-off residence pathway also provides certainty for up to 165,000 to migrants and business,” Grant Robertson said.

“We will also have more to say tomorrow on safely Reconnecting New Zealanders and New Zealand businesses with the world.”