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Unemployment rate rises to 7.3 percent
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  04 February 2010

Household Labour Force Survey: December 2009 quarter  –  Media Release

In seasonally adjusted terms, the number of unemployed continued to increase during the December 2009 quarter, reaching 168,000, while the unemployment rate rose to 7.3 percent, Statistics New Zealand said today. The unemployment rate is now at its highest level since the June 1999 quarter.

The increase in unemployment and the unemployment rate was mainly due to a rise in the number of people entering the labour force but unable to find work.

During the past year, the increase in unemployment was particularly marked among the youth (15–24-year-olds), with the unemployment rate for this group rising 6.4 percentage points to reach 18.4 percent. There were also marked differences in the unemployment rates by ethnic group. The unemployment rate remains high for the Māori (15.4 percent), Pacific peoples (14.0 percent), and Middle Eastern/Latin American/African (17.1 percent) ethnic groups, while the unemployment rate for the European ethnic group stands at 4.6 percent.

Employment fell slightly during the quarter with the number of people employed decreasing by 2,000 or 0.1 percent, compared with a 16,000 decline in the previous quarter. Full-time employment drove the latest decrease in employment. Actual hours worked also fell by 0.4 percent consistent with the fall in employment during the December 2009 quarter, and by 3.2 percent since the December 2008 quarter.

During the last year, employment fell by 53,000 or 2.4 percent. There were large decreases in the number of people employed in the Auckland and Canterbury regions. There were also marked decreases in employment in the manufacturing; retail trade and accommodation; and arts, recreation, and other services industries. On the other hand, employment in the health and social care assistance, and financial and insurance services industries has increased notably.

The labour force participation rate increased slightly by 0.1 percentage points to 68.1 percent during the latest quarter. There were 16,000 (0.7 percent) more people in the labour force due to an increase in the working-age population (0.4 percent) and an increase in the number of people unemployed.

Geoff Bascand

4 February 2010

Government Statistician



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Peter Gardiner
Wellington 04 931 4600

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