Job market defies pessimists

New Zealand's job market has taken another jump, with a fall in unemployment and a surge in hours worked.
New Zealand's job market has taken another jump, with a fall in unemployment and a surge in hours worked.
 
The labour force participation rate is also surging, and is at the third highest level since the household labour force survey began in 1986.
 
There are now 72,000 more people employed than there were a year ago, according to figures released this morning by Statistics New Zealand. 
 
Hours worked are up 3.3% for the year to September, and demand for employees from established business rose 3.0% for the same period, according to the quarterly employment survey - the largest increase in six years.
 
The workforce participation rate is running at 69.0%, the third highest ever. This is significant due to the large increase in net migration over the last year, which added an additional 64,000 people to the population.
 
For the September quarter, the number of people rose 0.8%, faster than the rate of increase in  the working age population of 0.4%.
 
There were some fears today's labour market data could show a tail off after the previous quarter's surprisingly large drop in unemployment and rise in hours worked.  A combination of the migration surge, pre-election nervousness and the statistical volatility which has bedevilled the labour market data since the recession ended in 2009 meant there was good cause for caution.
 
However today's data shows employers are following through on their hiring intentions, signalled in business mood surveys such as the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research's quarterly survey of business opinion and the ANZ business confidence survey. 
 
Meanwhile labour costs rose 1.9% for the private sector over the year, well below the rate of inflation of 1.0%, while average ordinary time hourly earnings rose 2.3%.
 
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