Unemployment rate falls below 5% in New Zealand

by Ray Clancy on May 5, 2017

Official figures show that New Zealand is one of the most popular countries in the world for expats with more people arriving than ever before to live and work.

Experts have pointed out that this is because the economy is strong, there are plenty of opportunities for employment and the country is regarded as a safe place to live, well away from the kind of terrorism that is affecting some countries in Europe.

Now the latest employment figures are set to confirm this view with the Government data showing that the unemployment rate fell to 4.9% in the first quarter of 2017, down from 5.2% in the previous quarter.

The figures from Statistics New Zealand also show that 6,000 fewer people were unemployed. The unemployment rate for men fell from 4.8% to 4.2%, making it the lowest rate since the December 2008 quarter. However, the unemployment rate for women was unchanged.

The accommodation and food sectors, along with construction are providing the most new jobs, the data also shows.

The Nelson Tasman region has the lowest unemployment rate nationwide at just 2.8% and businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to hire the right staff. Nelson Chamber of Commerce said that the construction industry is facing staff shortages.

Employment is continuing to grow. The number of employed people increased 1.2% or by 29,000 people. Men provided the main contribution to this increase, with more males in both full time and part time employment.

For the sixth quarter in a row, employment growth exceeded growth in the working age population, which was 0.7%. This meant New Zealand’s employment rate was up by 0.3% to 67.1%.

Westpac economist Satish Ranchod said the lower unemployment figures and strong jobs growth has surprised analysts. ‘Job growth we’ve been seeing are in sectors like hospitality, which has been benefiting from those strong tourist numbers, but are also in areas like construction and professional services,’ he pointed out.

The official data also shows that filled jobs increased by 2.4% over the year to the end of March 2017 with the accommodation and food services, and construction industries contributing almost half this increase at 32,300 more jobs.

‘We’re also starting to see construction employment build in regions other than Auckland and Canterbury. There was a significant increase in employment in the Waikato region, which included 3,600 more people working in construction,’ said labour market and household statistics senior manager Mark Gordon.

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