Unemployment remains low and wages rise despite volatile global environment

Social Development and Employment

Unemployment has remained near record lows thanks to the Government’s economic plan to support households and businesses through the challenging global environment, resulting in more people in work and wages rising.

Stats NZ figures show the unemployment rate was 3.3 percent in the June quarter, with 96,000 people classed out of work. That is 16 percent below where it was a year ago.

Employment remained unchanged in the quarter and the total number of people in work is 45,000 more than a year ago and 108,000 above where it was in the December 2019 quarter before COVID. The average hourly wage rose 6.4 percent to $36.97 an hour.

“This is very positive and shows our economic plan is working. Unemployment continues to be very low and firms are continuing to hire despite the uncertain global environment. Wages are rising to help with cost of living pressures while the Government is doing its bit to support household incomes,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“New Zealand is well positioned to respond to a challenging global situation dominated by high inflation, the ongoing pandemic and related supply chain disruptions. Our economy has come through the pandemic better than nearly anywhere in the world, with growth up 5.1 percent on a year ago and debt among the lowest in the OECD.

“We have taken action to ease cost of living pressures on households, particularly those on lower incomes. We are taking action to ensure New Zealanders are paying a fair price at the petrol pump and supermarket checkout.

“We know that some sectors and businesses are facing worker shortages. We are striking the right balance, investing heavily in skills and training through programmes like Mana in Mahi, Flexiwage and He Poutama Rangatahi while making it simpler through our Immigration reset to attract workers to get the skills we need. Over 7,400 businesses have received accreditation to employ migrants since the scheme opened in late May, with more than 7,100 positions being approved.

On comparable measures, New Zealand’s 3.3 percent unemployment rate stands favourably against 3.6 in the United States, 3.8 percent in Australia and the United Kingdom and 5.1 percent in Canada. The OECD average is 5 percent.

“We recognise that unemployment is likely to move around in what has been a volatile and uncertain global environment. Despite the slight rise in the total number of those out of work, the number of Māori and Pacific unemployed fell 2.3 percent and 2.4 percent respectively on a year ago, which is extremely positive. The Maori rate is encouragingly one of the lowest on record.

“Our focus is keeping the economy moving in the right direction. The volatile environment is likely to see unemployment continue to move around a bit, but we will continue to invest in creating the conditions to support people into work and drive higher wages for New Zealanders. Our job is far from over.”