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Household Labour Force Survey: December 2009 quarter
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  04 February 2010
Commentary

Labour market overview – seasonally adjusted

The December 2009 quarter Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) showed continuing increases in unemployment and the unemployment rate, the eighth consecutive quarter these occurred. This quarter saw the number of people unemployed reach its highest level since the June 1993 quarter, and also showed the highest unemployment rate (7.3 percent) in 10 years.

In the December 2009 quarter, unemployment rose by 18,000 (12.2 percent) to reach 168,000, the highest level in 16 years. In the same period, the unemployment rate rose by 0.8 percentage points to reach 7.3 percent, the highest since the June 1999 quarter when it was also at 7.3 percent.

Employment fell by 2,000 (0.1 percent) during the December 2009 quarter, driven by a decrease in female full-time employment. Part-time employment remained unchanged, with a decrease in male part-time employment offset by an increase of the same number in female part-time employment.

The total number of actual hours worked decreased by 0.4 percent during the quarter, while total actual hours worked fell by 3.2 percent over the year to December 2009.

The labour force participation rate increased by 0.1 percentage points during the quarter to reach 68.1 percent, with the number of people in the labour force up by 16,000. This rise was brought about by an increase in the working-age population and the number of unemployed people.

The (unadjusted) working-age population continued to grow during the December 2009 quarter, partly due to positive net permanent and long-term migration.

 Diagram, labour market December 2009 quarter, seasonally adjusted figures, quarterly change.

Employment – seasonally adjusted

Employment decreased by 2,000 (0.1 percent), down to 2,152,000 during the December 2009 quarter. Annually, employment decreased by 2.4 percent.

Full-time employment decreased by 5,000 (0.3 percent) during the December 2009 quarter, down to 1,653,000, the lowest number since the December 2005 quarter. Part-time employment remained unchanged at 497,000.  In annual terms, both full-time and part-time employment decreased, down by 44,000 (2.6 percent) and 10,000 (2.0 percent), respectively. 

In the December 2009 quarter, male employment remained flat at 1,139,000. In annual terms, male employment decreased by 30,000 (2.6 percent), driven by male full-time employment, which fell by 28,000 (2.8 percent) during the year to December 2009.

Female employment decreased by 3,000 (0.3 percent) in the December 2009 quarter. Both full-time and part-time employment decreased by 2,000 (0.3 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively). Annually, female employment decreased 23,000 (2.2 percent), mostly driven by a fall of 15,000 (2.3 percent) in full-time employment. Female part-time employment also showed a decrease, falling by 8,000 (2.3 percent).

In unadjusted terms, employment for those aged 15–19 years decreased by 23,900 to 125,600 during the year to December 2009. However, employment for those aged 60–64 rose by 15,200 for the same period, up to reach 149,400.

During the year to December 2009, the number of people employed in Auckland decreased by 16,900 to 654,700. The same also occurred in Canterbury, with the number of employed falling by 12,800 to 330,300.

In annual terms, the manufacturing; retail trade and accommodation; and arts, recreation, and other services industries showed notable decreases in employment, down by 28,000, 24,100, and 12,400, respectively. On the other hand, the number of people employed in the health care and social assistance industry rose, up by 15,000 during the same period.

Graph, Full-time employment, quarterly.

 

Graph, Part-time employment, quarterly.


Unemployment – seasonally adjusted

In the December 2009 quarter, the number of people unemployed increased by 18,000 (12.2 percent) to reach 168,000, the highest number of unemployed since the June 1993 quarter. The number of unemployed males rose by 9,000 (11.2 percent) to 89,000, and the number of females unemployed was also up by 9,000 (13.4 percent) to 80,000. This is the highest number of females unemployed since the survey began.

In annual terms, the number of people unemployed rose by 60,000 (54.7 percent). Male and female unemployment increased by 32,000 (57.7 percent) and 27,000 (51.5 percent), respectively.

The unemployment rate continued to increase, to reach 7.3 percent in the December 2009 quarter. This compares with 6.5 percent in the September 2009 quarter and 4.7 percent in the December 2008 quarter.

In the December 2009 quarter, the male unemployment rate increased by 0.7 percentage points to reach 7.2 percent, while the female unemployment rate increased by 0.8 percentage points, up to 7.3 percent. Annually, the female and the male unemployment rates increased, by 2.5 and 2.6 percentage points, respectively.

In unadjusted terms, the number of unemployed during the year to December 2009 increased markedly for those aged 15–19 years (up by 12,800 to reach 45,300) and those aged 20–24 years (up by 11,100 to reach 27,400).
 

Graph, Unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted, quarterly.

 

Graph, Unemployment rate by sex, seasonally adjusted, quarterly.


Working-age population – unadjusted

The working-age population grew by 14,500 (0.4 percent) during the December 2009 quarter, and by 49,200 (1.5 percent) during the year to reach 3,398,400. Part of the quarterly increase was due to a net gain from permanent and long-term migration. (See International Travel and Migration: December 2009 for more information.)

In the year to December 2009, the working-age population increased in the Auckland (by 34,200 to 1,039,000) and Otago (by 10,000 to 165,700) regions. The Waikato region showed a decrease of 4,100 people in the working-age population, down to 310,900. 

Labour force participation – seasonally adjusted

The labour force participation rate increased 0.1 percentage points to reach 68.1 percent during the December 2009 quarter. On an annual basis, the labour force participation rate fell by 0.9 percentage points. The total labour force increased by 16,000 (0.7 percent) to reach 2,320,000 during the December 2009 quarter.  Annually, the labour force increased by 7,000 (0.3 percent) people.

During the December 2009 quarter, the male labour force participation rate increased slightly, up by 0.1 percentage points to reach 74.3 percent, while the female participation rate showed no movement at 62.3 percent. Both the male and female participation rates decreased in the year to December 2009, falling by 1.2 and 0.6 percentage points, respectively.


Graph, Labour force participation rate, quarterly.  

Total hours worked – seasonally adjusted

The total number of actual hours worked per week decreased by 0.4 percent during the December 2009 quarter to reach 70,907,000 hours. The number of usual hours worked per week increased slightly during the same period, up by 0.1 percent to 78,565,000 hours. On an annual basis, both the total number of actual and usual hours worked per week decreased by 3.2 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively. 

 Graph, Total hours worked each week, quarterly.

Jobless – unadjusted

The jobless are defined as those people who are either officially unemployed, available but not seeking work, or actively seeking but not available for work. Since the December 2008 quarter, the number of jobless has risen by 72,200 people, up to 275,900.

Underemployment – unadjusted

The number of underemployed people (employed people who work part-time and would prefer to work more hours) may serve as a measure of underutilised labour in the economy.  Of the 501,400 people employed part-time in the December 2009 quarter, 22.9 percent (114,600) preferred to work more hours.  This compares with 24.4 percent in the September 2009 quarter and 19.3 percent in the December 2008 quarter.

During the December 2009 quarter, 28.3 percent of males working part-time preferred to work more hours compared with 20.7 percent of females.

Duration of unemployment – unadjusted

On an annual basis, short-term unemployment (those unemployed for 26 weeks or less) increased by 28,500 (37.3 percent), to 104,900. During the same period, the number of long-term unemployed (those unemployed for longer than 26 weeks) more than doubled, reaching 40,500.  Of the total number of unemployed people in the December 2009 quarter, 66.1 percent had been so for 26 weeks or less, while 25.5 percent had been unemployed for longer than 26 weeks.

Duration of unemployment (unadjusted)
  December 2008 quarter (000) December 2009 quarter (000)
Short-term unemployment
26 weeks or less

76.4

104.9
Long-term unemployment
Over 26 weeks, but not over one year
Over one year, but not over two years
Over two years
Total long-term unemployment

10.0
3.5
1.3
14.8

30.3
6.2
4.0
40.5
Not specified 11.6 13.5
Total unemployment 102.8 158.9


Participation in formal study – unadjusted

In the December 2009 quarter, 260,000 people were participating in formal study, a 2.3 percent increase from the same quarter in 2008. Unemployed people were the most likely to be involved in formal study in the December 2009 quarter, with 12.4 percent participating. This compares with 8.7 percent of people who were not in the labour force, and 6.8 percent of those who were employed.

Ethnic group statistics – unadjusted

Ethnicity series are now published using the single/combination output method of classification. With this method, people are counted just once according to the ethnic group or combination of ethnic groups they have reported. Please refer to the technical notes of this release for more information.

In annual terms, unadjusted unemployment rates increased significantly for all ethnic groups, except for those in the 'other ethnicity' only ethnic group. 

Single/combination unemployment rate (unadjusted) by ethnic group
  December 2008 quarter (percent) December 2009 quarter (percent)
 European only 3.2 4.6
 Māori only 9.8 15.4
 Pacific peoples only 7.8 14.0
 Asian only 6.3 9.2
 MELAA only 10.7 17.1
'Other ethnicity' only 4.1 3.3
 European/Māori 7.0 13.6
 Two or more groups not elsewhere included 6.5 14.1
 Note: MELAA = Middle Eastern/Latin American/African

The unemployment rate for all people who identified with the Māori ethnic group (including those who also identified with other groups) was 14.8 percent for the December 2009 quarter. This figure is known as the total response Māori unemployment rate. There has been an increase of 6.2 percentage points since the December 2008 quarter, when the total response Māori unemployment rate was 8.6 percent.

Longer time series

The following graphs show the HLFS series for the number of people employed, the labour force participation rate, and the unemployment rate over a 15-year period. A complete time series from March 1986 onwards is available on request.

 Graph, Employment, quarterly, Dec 94–Dec 09 quarter.

 Graph, Unemployment, quarterly.

 Graph, Unemployment rate, quarterly.

 

For technical information contact: 
Michelle Barnes
Wellington 04 931 4600
Email: info@stats.govt.nz  

Next release ...

Household Labour Force Survey: March 2010 quarter will be released on 
6 May 2010.

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