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New Zealand Unemployment Rate Rises To 4.2% In Q3

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The jobless rate in New Zealand came in at a seasonally adjusted 4.2 percent in the third quarter of 2019, Statistics New Zealand said on Wednesday.

That exceeded expectations for 4.1 percent and was up from the 11-year low mark of 3.9 percent in the three months prior.

On a yearly basis, employment was up 0.9 percent - in line with expectations following the 1.7 percent jump in the previous three months.

The participation rate was 70.4 percent - unchanged but beating forecasts for 70.3 percent.

The seasonally adjusted underutilization rate fell to 10.4 percent. This is the lowest underutilization rate since the June 2008 quarter, when it was 9.9 percent.

"Labor market data is most useful when placed in the context of a time series," prices senior manager Paul Pascoe said. "While the unemployment rate has returned to the level seen in the March 2019 quarter, it has largely been tracking down since late 2012."

Overall, the seasonally adjusted number of people who were underutilized fell by 18,000, to 295,000 in the September 2019 quarter. This is the first time since the March 2009 quarter that the number of underutilized people has been below 300,000.

The underutilization rate for women fell to 12.6 percent, which is the lowest rate since the September 2008 quarter, when it was also 12.6 percent.

The underutilization rate for men fell to 8.3 percent, which is the lowest rate since the December 2007 quarter, when it was 7.5 percent.

The number of people underemployed decreased by 15,100 over the year, driven by 11,900 fewer underemployed women.

Of the total decrease in the number of underemployed people, 11,600 fewer were actively seeking more hours. This reflected 8,200 fewer underemployed women who were actively seeking more hours.

Annually, the median actual hours women worked in their main job increased from 32 to 35, while men remained at a median of 40 hours.

Of the total decrease in the number of underemployed people, 7,700 came from a decrease in underemployed 15-24-year-olds.

The seasonally adjusted employment rate remained steady at 67.5 percent in the September 2019 quarter. The employment rate for men also remained steady at 72.2 percent, while the employment rate for women dropped slightly to 62.9 percent, down from 63.0 percent last quarter.

Over the quarter, 6,000 more people were employed. The rise in the number of employed people was largely influenced by men (up 6,000), while the number of employed women also rose slightly (up 1,000). Annually, the number of employed people increased by 23,000.

The labor cost index (LCI) salary and wage rates (including overtime) increased 2.4 percent in the year to the September 2019 quarter.

Annually, public sector wage inflation was 3.0 percent, and private sector wage inflation was 2.3 percent.

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