New Zealand unemployment falls, wages lift

Statistics New Zealand has released labour market data for the December quarter, which reveals both falling unemployment an rising wage growth.

New Zealand unemployment fell to 4.0% from 4.1% (revised) in the September quarter:

The labour underutilisation rate also fell to an 11-year low of 10%:

The seasonally adjusted underutilisation rate fell to 10.0 percent in the December 2019 quarter, down from 10.4 percent last quarter.

This is the lowest rate of underutilisation since the June 2008 quarter, when it was 9.9 percent. Underutilisation provides a broader gauge of untapped capacity in New Zealand’s labour market.

Meanwhile, wage growth remains at a decade high:

The labour cost index (LCI) salary and wage rates (including overtime) increased 2.6 percent in the year to the December 2019 quarter. This is the largest increase since the June 2009 quarter, when it increased by 2.8 percent…

“We are seeing wage growth across the LCI, with 61 percent of wages showing pay increases over the last year,” business prices delivery manager Bryan Downes said.

“This is the highest percentage of wages that have seen increases since September 2008.”

The New Zealand labour market is clearly outperforming Australia’s.

Leith van Onselen
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