Unemployment drops to 6.0%

Unemployment has fallen from 7.1% in December (was 7.3% before adjusted) to 6.0% in March, which is welcome news.

Always important to look beyond the headlines, to see what makes this up:

  • Employment up 22,000 from 2,155,000 to 2,177,000
  • FT employment up 26,000 and PT employment down 3,000
  • Unemployment down 25,000 from 165,000 to 140,000
  • Labour force shrinks by 3,000 but participation rate constant at 68.1%
  • Unemployment rate goes from 7.1% to 6.0%
  • Maori unemployment drops from 15.4% to 14.2%
  • The jobless (includes those not looking or available for work) drops from 275,900 to 263,000
  • The number of hours worked in the quarter up 1.7% seasonally adjusted which is 2nd largest quarterly growth since Dec 2004
  • Underemployment (those wanting more hours) drops from 114,600 to 99,900

These can only be regarded as very good numbers. The fact it is FT job growth that has driven the drop is especially welcome. In fact checking through the HLFS data series, the increase in FT employment of 26,000 is the greatest (seasonally adjusted) quarterly increase in its history (started 1986).

Furthermore, the drop in both the number unemployed (25,000) and the unemployment rate (1.1%) are also both the greatest falls in the history of the HLFS.

I note youth unemployment remains very high at 25.2% for under 20 year olds. Again – the abolishment of youth rates has priced many teenagers out of jobs.

Now the HLFS is just a survey. A large one of 30,000 so with a small margin of error. It is quite possible this result is slightly exaggerated, and this may correct itself in June. But even with that in mind, it is still obviously a very good result.

Looking at the regional results, the rural regions seem to be doing best, but the industry results show the largest increase in employment has been in manufacturing, followed by wholesale trade.

A very good result as I say, but still a lot more work to be done. And let us remember that the Government can do its part to to help (or hinder) but primarily it is private sector employers who are responsible – they are the ones making the decisions to take on more staff, as they can afford to.

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