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Household Labour Force Survey: September 2011 quarter
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  03 November 2011
Commentary

Employment and unemployment increase

The labour force grew during the September 2011 quarter, through an increase in both the number of people employed and the number of people unemployed. As the number of people unemployed increased at a greater rate than the total labour force, the unemployment rate rose slightly, to 6.6 percent. While labour market outcomes generally improved for men over the quarter, women's employment decreased and unemployment increased.

The number of people employed increased by 5,000 over the quarter. Full-time employment grew by 8,000, while part-time employment decreased by 3,000. Over the quarter, the number of men employed grew while the number of women employed fell. In annual terms, however, both male and female employment grew, with stronger employment growth for females.

The total number of people unemployed increased by 3,000 over the quarter, with an increase of 4,000 women unemployed and a slight decrease of 1,000 men unemployed. The male unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 percentage points to 6.3 percent and the female unemployment rate increased 0.3 percentage points to 7.0 percent.

In annual unadjusted terms, employment increased significantly in the Auckland region, while there was a significant decrease in employment in the Canterbury region.

Diagram, Labour market overview - September 2011 quarter.

Full-time employment increases

Employment increased by 5,000 (0.2 percent) during the September 2011 quarter, to 2,218,000. Full-time employment increased by 8,000, while part-time employment decreased by 3,000.

In the September 2011 quarter, male employment grew by 9,000 (0.8 percent), with male full-time employment increasing by 1.4 percent and male part-time employment decreasing by 4.2 percent. The number of women employed decreased by 5,000 (0.4 percent) over the quarter. This was due to a decrease in female full-time employment (down 1.2 percent), while female part-time employment increased by 0.9 percent.

Since the September 2010 quarter, employment has increased by 25,000 (1.1 percent). Annually, both male and female employment has increased, with the increase in the number of women employed (14,000) larger than the increase in the number of men employed (10,000). Almost all of the annual growth in employment has been in full-time employment, up 24,000.

 Graph, full-time employment, seasonally adjusted.  Graph, part-time employment, seasonally adjusted.

The employment rate is calculated as the number of people employed expressed as a percentage of the working-age population. In the September 2011 quarter, the employment rate was flat at 63.9 percent. The male employment rate increased, compared with the June 2011 quarter, by 0.5 percentage points to 70.2 percent. In contrast, the female employment rate decreased, compared with the June 2011 quarter, by 0.4 percentage points to 58.0 percent.

The trend series

The trend series adjusts for seasonal effects and removes the irregular comp onent from a series. This can help reveal the underlying movement in a series. Refer to the Data quality section of this release for more information about trend series.

The trend series shows that employment grew by 2,000 people (0.1 percent) during the quarter, reaching 2,217,000. Female employment fell to 1,035,000 (0.2 percent), while male employment grew by 0.4 percent to 1,182,000.

Unadjusted annual movements

During the September 2011 year, employment increased by 10,600 for those aged 65 years and over and decreased by 7,700 for those aged 15–19 years old.

Both the level of employment and the employment rate increased significantly in Auckland. The number of people employed in Auckland increased by 58,900 (9.1 percent) to 704,600 during the September 2011 year. Increases in both male and female employment contributed to this growth. In Canterbury, employment decreased by 26,800 people (8.0 percent) to 308,400 people. 

By occupation, there were significant increases in the number of people who were employed as professionals (18,800) and as machinery operators and drivers (11,900). The number of people employed as technicians and trades workers decreased by 13,900 over the year.

Self-employment increased by 17,200 people (7.5 percent) during the September 2011 year.

Significantly more people identifying as ‘Pacific peoples only’ and ‘Asian only’ were employed during the September 2011 year, up 15.7 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively. 

More unemployed women contribute to a total increase in unemployment

During the September 2011 quarter, unemployment increased by 3,000 (1.7 percent) to 157,000. Female unemployment increased by 4,000 (5.1 percent) to 78,000, while male unemployment decreased by 1,000 (1.5 percent) to 79,000.

Annually, unemployment has risen by 7,000 (4.6 percent). Female unemployment has decreased by 0.1 percent, while male unemployment has grown by 9.8 percent.

The unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percentage points to 6.6 percent during the September 2011 quarter. The female unemployment rate increased by 0.3 percentage points to 7.0 percent, while the male unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 percentage points during the quarter, to 6.3 percent.

 Graph, unemployment rate by sex, seasonally adjusted. Graph, unemployment rate, seasonlly adjusted and trend series. 

The trend series

The trend shows unemployment has increased by 1.0 percent to 157,000 people over the quarter. The trend unemployment rate also rose by 0.1 percentage points during the quarter to 6.6 percent and has stayed within a tight band of 6.4 to 6.6 percent since the March 2010 quarter.

Unadjusted annual movements

In the year to September 2011, the unemployment rate increased significantly for the ‘Middle Eastern/Latin American/African only’ ethnic group and for those who specified two or more ethnic groups other than European/Māori.

The unemployment rate for all people who identified with the Māori ethnic group (including those who also identified with other groups) was 13.2 percent in the September 2011 quarter. This rate has decreased slightly since the September 2010 quarter, when it was 13.4 percent. This figure is known as the total response Māori unemployment rate. 

Employment decreases in Canterbury

Supplementary tables with detailed data for the Canterbury region have been included in this release. These are similar to tables 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 11, and 14 from the main tables. Data in the tables for the Canterbury region are all unadjusted. A brief overview of the Canterbury labour market is provided below. 

Unadjusted annual changes for the September 2011 quarter   
   Canterbury  National excluding Canterbury  National
Annual change Annual change Annual change
Unemployment rate +0.7 +0.1 +0.2
Unemployed +5.3% +4.6% +4.7%
Employed -8.0% +2.8% +1.1%
Employment rate  -3.7  +0.6  0.0
Not in the labour force  +8.3%  -0.7%  +0.5%
Labour force participation rate  -3.3  +0.8  +0.2
Actual hours  -5.2%  +3.6%  +2.3%

For the year to the September 2011 quarter, employment decreased significantly in the Canterbury region, down 26,800 (8.0 percent). This compared with employment growth for New Zealand as a whole of 24,400 (1.1 percent) during the same period. The employment rate for New Zealand was unchanged over the year, at 63.6 percent. In the Canterbury region, the employment rate decreased from 66.7 percent in September 2010 to 63.0 percent in September 2011.

Decreases in female employment in Canterbury accounted for approximately 70 percent of the total employment decrease recorded over the year. There was also a notable decrease in part-time employment over the year, with a drop of 19,800.

The employment rate for youth (those aged 15–24) dropped by 8.6 percentage points over the year. This compares with a 1.9 percentage point decrease for those aged 25–54, and a 1.0 percentage point fall for those aged 55 years or older.

By industry, the most notable decrease in employment was in the retail trade, accommodation and food services industry group, down 12,600 (22.4 percent). Approximately two-thirds of this decrease was in the accommodation and food services part of this industry group. Employment in the construction industry increased by 4,500 (18.0 percent) in Canterbury over the year.

The number of people not in the labour force increased significantly in Canterbury – up 12,500 (8.3 percent). The number of unemployed in Canterbury increased slightly by 900 (5.3 percent). This compares with an increase of 6,700 (4.7 percent) unemployed for New Zealand as a whole. The unemployment rate in the Canterbury region increased by 0.7 percentage points to 5.5 percent over the year. This is still lower than the national unemployment rate.

Labour force participation rate increases for men

During the September 2011 quarter, the labour force participation rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 68.4 percent. Annually, participation also increased by 0.1 percentage points.

During the quarter, the male labour force participation rate increased by 0.4 percentage points, while the female participation rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points. Annually, both male and female labour force participation increased moderately, up 0.1 percentage points and 0.2 percentage points, respectively.

The total labour force increased by 7,000 people (0.3 percent) to 2,375,000 during the quarter. Annually, the labour force has risen by 32,000 (1.3 percent).

Graph, labour force participation rate, survey series and seasonally adjusted.

Working-age population increases slightly

The working-age population grew by 5,600 (0.2 percent) during the September 2011 quarter and by 36,700 (1.1 percent) in the year to the September 2011 quarter, to reach 3,466,600.

Total actual hours worked increases together with full-time employment

Actual hours worked are the number of hours a person worked in the reference week (including overtime). Usual hours worked are the number of hours a person normally works in a week (including overtime).

The number of actual hours worked for the September 2011 quarter increased by 1.0 percent to 74,878,000. For the same period, the number of usual hours worked decreased slightly by 0.2 percent to 80,444,000. Annually, both actual and usual hours increased, up 2.3 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

Graph, actual hours worked, survey series and seasonally adjusted.

Number of jobless grows (unadjusted)

The jobless are defined as those people who are either officially unemployed, available but not actively seeking work, or actively seeking but not available for work.

Since the September 2010 quarter, the number of jobless people has increased by 10,900 (4.5 percent), to 254,300 people. The largest increase was in the number of people who are officially unemployed, followed by those who are actively seeking work but who are not available.

Fewer underemployed (unadjusted)

The number of underemployed people (people employed part-time who would prefer to work more hours) may serve as a measure of under-utilised labour in the economy. Of those people employed part-time in the September 2011 quarter, 19.4 percent (97,600 people) would prefer to work more hours. This compares with 21.7 percent in the June 2011 quarter and 21.8 percent in the September 2010 quarter, and is the lowest proportion recorded since the December 2008 quarter.

During the September 2011 quarter, 23.3 percent of males working part-time would have preferred to work more hours, compared with 17.9 percent of females.

Duration of unemployment (unadjusted)

Annually, short-term unemployment (those unemployed for 26 weeks or less) increased slightly by 500 people (0.5 percent) to 95,600. During the same period, the number of long-term unemployed (those unemployed for longer than 26 weeks) rose by 3,000 people (7.8 percent) to 41,300. Of the total number of unemployed people in the September 2011 quarter, 63.2 percent had been so for 26 weeks or less, while 27.3 percent had been unemployed for longer than 26 weeks.

Duration of unemployment (unadjusted) 
  September 2010 quarter September 2011 quarter
(000) (000)
Short-term unemployment     
26 weeks or less  95.1 95.6
Long-term unemployment
Over 26 weeks, but not over a year 28.0 30.4
Over one year, but not over two years 7.0 8.1
Over two years 3.4 2.8
Total long-term unemployment 38.3 41.3
Not specified 11.0 14.3
Total unemployment 144.5 151.2

Fewer people in formal study (unadjusted)

During the September 2011 quarter, 309,900 people were participating in formal study, a 2.5 percent decline from the same quarter in 2010. Unemployed people were the most likely to be involved in formal study, with 13.2 percent participating. This compares with 11.1 percent of those not in the labour force and 7.5 percent of those who were employed.

Longer time series

The following graphs show the Household Labour Force Survey series for the employment rate, 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 rate, survey series and seasonally adjusted.

Graph, labour force participation rate, longer time series.

Graph, unemployment rate, survey series and seasonally adjusted.

For more detailed data see the Excel tables in the ‘Downloads’ box.

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