Stats NZ released the June Quarter Labour Market Report which reported that unemployment fell to 3.9% in the second quarter, down from 4.2% in the last quarter. The last time the unemployment rate was this low was mid-2008.
+21,000: The economy gained 21,000 jobs in the second quarter of 2019.
3.9%: The unemployment rate fell to 3.9%.
2.1%: Overall wages increased 2.1% over the last year.
After posting job losses in Q1, 21,000 jobs were created in the second quarter. The sectors which had the greatest job gains in the quarter were retail trade, accommodation and food services with an additional 10,100 positions and education and training with 9,300 new jobs. Compared to a year earlier, 45,000 more people are now working in New Zealand.
Overall wages grew by 2.1% over last year, one tenth of one per cent over the annual increase posted in the first quarter. The seasonally adjusted underutilisation rate fell to 11.0% this quarter, down from 11.3% in March 2019. This is the lowest rate of underutilisation since the September 2008 quarter, when the underutilisation rate was just 10.5%.
The slight lift in the June quarter’s wage increase is being attributed to the new minimum wage law which took effect on April 1. While there was job growth in most sectors, manufacturing lost 6,700 positions. Analysts note that while the labour market is strengthening, indicators point to slowing growth in the future:
“ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley said the labour market had tightened, but he was cautious because all the signs have been pointing to a slower economy.
‘More timely indicators suggest the worm has turned for the labour market. The broader economic slowdown now looks entrenched, and will likely translate into additional labour market slack ahead.’”
State of the New Zealand Workforce
In July, Stats NZ released The Survey of working life 2018, conducted between October and December 2018. Employed people were asked about their work arrangements, employment conditions and satisfaction with their job and work-life balance. The report attempts to create a picture of what working life is like in New Zealand.
The report showed that a majority of New Zealanders are generally satisfied with their work life. But as NZ Business notes, flexibility and work/life balance play an important role in employee contentment, and employers need to be vigilant in these areas or they risk losing talent:
“It’s great to hear that the vast majority of Kiwis are happy with their work lives, showing that employers are definitely getting things right. This is no time for them to sit back though because unless they continue to focus on key areas that make a significant contribution to their people’s satisfaction in their job, they risk losing them.
The Statistics NZ Survey of working life: 2018 of just under 10,000 people showed that 88 percent of people employed – in all sectors and business sizes – were either satisfied or very satisfied with their job. That’s impressive, as is the fact that half of employees had flexible work hours. That links directly with job satisfaction and people feeling like they have a better work/life balance.”
Additional key findings in the report include:
- Half of employees had flexible work hours, allowing them to start and finish work at different times each day.
- Almost two out of five employees worked in jobs where their hours of work often changed to suit their employer’s needs.
- Two-thirds of employed people had worked at a non-standard time at least once in the last four weeks. (Non-standard times includes any hours worked outside of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Friday.)
- Almost one in 10 employed New Zealanders have more than one job. This equates to 222,900 people.
- Temporary employees make up 9% of all employees which is 201,300 people, and half of them want a permanent job.
- A quarter of employed people had been in their job for 10 or more years, and an additional 17% had been in their job for between five and ten years.
- Six out of ten employees undertook work-related training in the last 12 months.
- The majority of employed people (57%) felt that the skills they have match well with the skills required for their job.