Unemployment rises to 6.4% in second quarter

Statistics NZ says the labour market is improving, with employment growing slowly and unemployment down from a year ago.

New Zealand's unemployment rate rose more than expected in the second quarter while the participation rate increased, with little evidence of wage inflation.

The jobless rate increased to 6.4 percent in the three months ended June 30, higher than the 6.3 percent expected by economists in a Reuters poll and up from 6.2 percent in the first quarter, Statistics New Zealand says.

An additional 5000 people were available for work and looking for jobs, boosting the unemployment number, and the participation rate increased 0.1 percentage point to 68 percent.

The statistics department says the labour market is improving, with employment growing slowly and unemployment down from a year ago.

The second quarter unemployment rate is below the 6.9 percent average for 2012, and the lowest in its trend series since June 2009. New Zealand's 6.4 percent unemployment rate ranks the nation 12th lowest of OECD countries.

Canterbury, which is being rebuilt following a series of earthquakes, continued to lead employment growth, with the number of people employed up 5.5 percent over the year and the unemployment rate dropping to 4.4 percent from 6.5 percent in the June 2012 quarter. Construction, retail, accommodation and food services led the Canterbury increase.

Wage pressures remained subdued, the department says.

Wage inflation, as measured by the labour cost index, eased to 1.7 percent in the second quarter, down from 2 percent this time last year and below the 1.8 percent rate economists had expected.

Wage rates for just over half of the positions surveyed increased during the year. Of those that rose, the average increase is the lowest since the December 2000 quarter at 3.4 percent.

Average ordinary time hourly earnings rose by 2.1 percent over the year, the lowest wage growth since the December 2010 quarter, it says.

(BusinessDesk)