Unemployment falls to record low

Unemployment has fallen to its lowest level on record and matching where it was in December 2007, as the Government’s actions to support the economy during the pandemic resulted in higher wages and more people in work.

Stats NZ figures show the unemployment rate fell to 3.4 percent in the September quarter from 4 percent in the June quarter, down 18,000 to 98,000 classed out of work. The last time it was under 100,000 was in the September 2008 quarter.

Employment rose by 54,000 in the quarter, with women accounting for 39,000 of that. The employment rate for women was 64.6 percent, the highest rate ever recorded for women. The total number of people in work is now 115,000 above where it was in the December 2019 quarter before COVID.

New Zealand’s employment rate is now the third highest in the OECD.

The average hourly wage rose 3.5 percent to $35.25 an hour.

“This is a very positive result given the impacts of higher alert level restrictions and shows the Government’s approach since the start of the pandemic to protect lives and livelihoods continues to be the right one,” Grant Robertson said.

“The number of people reporting they were employed but working zero hours was 15 percent lower in the September quarter compared with the first lockdown in the June 2020 quarter. This shows how businesses and workers have adapted during the pandemic and firms are hiring. It’s another sign of how the economy continues to operate under the public health restrictions.

“The ongoing impact of the pandemic is likely to see unemployment move around a bit. Nevertheless, our balanced approach has put us in a strong position as we move to the new COVID-19 Protection Framework.

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

“On comparable measures, New Zealand’s 3.4 percent unemployment rate stands against 4.6 percent in Australia, 4.5 percent in the United Kingdom, 5.1 percent in the United States and 7.2 percent in Canada. The OECD average is 6.0 percent,” Grant Robertson said.

“The drop in Māori and Pacific unemployment is pleasing and shows that our focus on these groups is working,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“We recognise in particular prior to the Delta outbreak that some sectors were facing labour shortages. The Government is committed to addressing this through tweaks to immigration settings such as the rollover of working holiday visas and other short term visas. The one-off residence pathway also provides certainty for up to 165,000 to migrants and business,” Grant Robertson said.

“This Government has invested in programmes such as Flexiwage, Apprenticeship Boost, Māori Trades Training, Mana in Mahi and He Poutama Rangatahi, which are designed to empower Māori and Pacific people in the labour market, and provide them with the skills to thrive. MSD are seeing record numbers of people moving into work and today’s results reflect that,” Carmel Sepuloni said.