Unemployment rate hits 4.3 per cent

Employment stockNew Zealand’s unemployment rate has hit 4.3 per cent across the December 2018 quarter, up from 4 per cent the prior quarter, Stats NZ said today.

This quarter represented the first time since June 2010 that the unemployment rate for men (4.4 per cent) was higher than that of women (4.2 per cent).

Employment rate fell to 67.8 per cent due to strong growth in the working-age population offsetting any gains made in employment, bringing the level back in line with rates seen before its peak of 68.2 per cent in the September 2018 quarter.

Broadly, Kiwis enjoyed a slight pay rise over the period, with private sector wages growing by 2 per cent over the quarter, while public sector wages increased 1.7 per cent. Private sector ordinary time hourly earnings increased 3.7 per cent to $29.66, while in the public sector it increased 1.8 per cent to $39.54.

Average total weekly earnings for full-time equivalent employees increased 2.9 per cent annually to $1227.85.

“It is good to see a strong rise in the average wage over the last year, and that more Kiwi workers are getting pay rises, but more must be done to deliver for all working people,” The Council of Trade Unions president Richard Wagstaff said.

“This Government must step up the urgency and resources it puts into supporting people out of work, to help them get into work, and into support for industry to develop good high value jobs that pay decent wages.”

These figures are set to increase over the next few years, as the minimum wage increases from $16.50 an hour to $17.70 in April 2019, $18.90 in April 2020 and to $20 an hour in April 2021.

First Union general secretary Dennis Maga said that this change is “heading in the right direction”, and will mean almost an extra $50 a week on a full-time (40 hour) work weak.

The figure still falls short of the amount put forward by the Living Wage campaign, which posits that New Zealanders need at least $20.55 an hour in order to survive and participate in society.


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