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Yesterday the most recent quarterly update for employment in New Zealand
was released (Statistics New Zealand publishes labour market data
quarterly, whereas the Australian Bureau of Statistics publishes the
equivalent data monthly).

The result was the first backward step in the New Zealand labour market
in three years.


Sept 2015 (000s)  
3 month change (%)  
12 month change  

Employed persons
Unemployed persons
Percentage points  
Employment rate
Unemployment rate
Participation rate
Average hourly earnings







* this hourly rate is based on May 2015 data as November 2015 data is
not released until 25 February 2016

Other key data from the Statistics New Zealand release was:

  • 151,000 was the highest number of unemployed people since the June
    2013 quarter
  • Male unemployment was 5.6%. Female unemployment was 6.5%
  • Construction was the largest contributor to net employment growth
    over the past 12 months. Auckland (14,700) and Canterbury (5,000)
    were the largest two regions of growth in Construction employment
  • Auckland’s annual employment growth fell after a particularly strong
    period of growth over the past two years. For the year to September,
    growth slowed to 1.5%, down from 3.9% for the year to June 2015.
    Outside of the construction industry retail trade, accommodation and
    food service industry (8,400) and health care and social assistance
    industry (7,600) were the largest growth industries. Net declines in
    employment were recorded in the financial and insurance services,
    manufacturing and wholesale trade industries.
  • Of all regions, Bay of Plenty had the highest and only statistically
    significant annual employment growth: 6.1% (8,100 people)
This relatively downbeat news for the New Zealand labour market has come
after a very strong period of growth that has seen the Australian labour
market lag behind our

Kiwi cousins

Certainly the RIB 2014/15 annual review would suggest that the New
Zealand recruitment agency market has had a cracking past (Australian)
financial year with 12 of the 17 New Zealand-based RIB participants
reporting their highest profit on record (71% compared to the RIB
average of 27%).  

The very strong financial results for both the June 2015 and September
2015 quarters would suggest that the Australian recruitment industry
might just be in the process of catching up on the exceptional growth
that has been enjoyed across the Tasman in the past couple of years.  


  1. Michael Dunn on 05/11/2015 at 8:52 am

    Ross. Good to see you taking such a keen interest in our NZ labour market. Some other things to note are the higher NZ than Aus participation rate (68.6% vs 64.9%) and employment rate (64.5% vs 60.9%). Employment numbers have fallen marginally in 3 months, partly through cutbacks in dairy and other exports, although increasing year on year. But with high net annual immigration over the past 2-3 years the pool of available workers in NZ is now expanding faster than net job creation. In a report published by MOTU research this week, evidence was produced that the average skill levels of NZ workers decreased during the economic growth period up to 2007/8, and then increased up to 2011/12.

    • Ross Clennett on 05/11/2015 at 11:50 pm

      Thanks for your comments, Michael. On almost all fronts the NZ labour market does an extraordinary job, as I have often written about. Something about resourceful people in a small nation!

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