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New Zealand Q3 Jobless Rate Slides To 3.9%

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The jobless rate in New Zealand came in at a seasonally adjusted 3.9 percent in the third quarter of 2018, Statistics New Zealand said on Wednesday.

That was well beneath expectations for 4.4 percent and down sharply from 4.5 percent in the three months prior.

It's also the lowest unemployment rate since the second quarter of 2008.

Employment saw an increase of 2.8 percent on year - exceeding expectations for a gains of 2.0 percent following the 3.7 percent spike in Q2.

The participation rate was 71.1 percent, beating forecasts for 70.9 percent - which would have been unchanged from the previous quarter.

The fall in the unemployment rate in the latest quarter reflected a fall in the number of unemployed people (down 13,000) and a strong rise in employment (up 29,000). This quarter's employment rate rose to 68.3 percent, the highest rate since the series began more than 30 years ago.

The fall in unemployment, in tandem with a fall in underemployment, was key to the underutilization rate falling to 11.3 percent.

"While this quarter's unemployment rate is outside market expectations, we know New Zealand has a small economy with a dynamic labor market, and large changes, both up and down, have happened before - in late 2012 and 2015," labor market and household statistics senior manager Jason Attewell said.

"We also know labor market measures tend to lag behind other economic indicators, which have shown strong and widespread growth in 2018. We've seen population growth in the regions, reports of more job ads, high levels of migration and tourism, growing retail sales, and rising exports."

In the latest quarter, 109,000 people were unemployed - 13,000 (10.5 percent) fewer than in the second quarter, with 8,000 fewer women and 5,000 fewer men. For both sexes, this mainly reflected 11,000 fewer unemployed youth (15-24-year-olds).

Regions with significant employment growth included: Auckland - up 34,600 (3.8 percent); Waikato - up 8,400 (3.3 percent); Otago - up 6,700 (5.5 percent); Gisborne/Hawke's Bay - up 6,400 (6.5 percent); and Taranaki - up 4,300 (7.1 percent).

Annually, filled jobs, as measured by the quarterly employment survey (QES), increased 1.2 percent (unadjusted) - 23,500 more jobs. Of this increase, 17,500 were held by women and 6,000 by men.

Average weekly earnings (including overtime) for full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) also increased annually, up 3.3 percent to NZ$1,212.82 per week.

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