Household Labour Force Survey: December 2012 quarter

Commentary

Labour force weak this quarter – overview

In the December 2012 quarter the employment rate decreased 0.8 percentage points in seasonally adjusted terms. This is the third consecutive quarter the employment rate has fallen. The number of people employed fell 23,000, with fewer women in employment, as well as fewer people employed in part-time work.

The unemployment rate also decreased over the quarter, down 0.4 percentage points to 6.9 percent. This decrease reflected 10,000 fewer people being unemployed. The fall in unemployment was from a decrease in male unemployment. 

The labour force participation rate fell 1.2 percentage points over the quarter, due to both employment and unemployment decreasing.

The number of people not in the labour force had a large increase over the quarter, with increases for both males and females. Over the year to the December 2012 quarter, more people in the older age groups were not in the labour force. This was partly due to an ageing population. 

 Diagram, Labour market overview, December 2012 quarter.

Employment continues to decline 

During the December 2012 quarter the employment rate decreased 0.8 percentage points, to 62.6 percent, in seasonally adjusted terms. This is the third consecutive fall in the employment rate, after employment had been relatively unchanged for about two years. The employment rate is now at the lowest level in over 10 years.

The female employment rate fell for its second quarter, down 1.3 percentage points to 57.0 percent. The male employment rate fell 0.4 percentage points to 68.4 percent, falling for the third quarter in a row and is now at the lowest rate since the September 1999 quarter.

Over the latest quarter the number of people employed decreased 23,000 (down 1.0 percent), to 2,194,000. There was a 20,000 fall in the number of women employed (down 1.9 percent), and a 3,000 fall in the number of men employed (down 0.2 percent). 

 Graph, Employed, quarterly, December 2008 to December 2012.

 

 Graph, Employment rate, quarterly, December 2008 to December 2012.

 

Fall in part-time work while full-time work edges up

Part-time employment fell over the latest quarter, while full-time employment showed a small rise. Part-time employment fell 6.0 percent to reach 486,000. This fall comes soon after a peak in the March 2012 quarter.

Part-time employment  by industry

The annual industry figures below are not seasonally adjusted, and are based on changes that were statistically significant.

Within part-time employment, there were annual decreases in the education and training, and the agriculture, forestry, and fishing industries – down 8,900 and 6,400, respectively.

For total employment the manufacturing industry had an annual fall – down 17,200.

Actual hours worked flat

In the December 2012 quarter, the number of hours people actually worked per week remained flat – at 73.1 million hours (down 0.1 percent). However, usual hours worked increased 0.3 percent – up to 79.8 million hours. Although there was an overall fall in employment, the total number of hours worked remained steady, reflecting the changes in full- and part-time employment over the quarter. 

Self-employment decreases over the year

The following figures are not seasonally adjusted, and are based on annual changes that were statistically significant unless otherwise stated.

Over the December 2012 year the total number of people employed decreased 31,900 (down 1.4 percent). The main fall was in self-employment, down 50,200 (19.3 percent), reflecting 32,000 fewer men in self-employment (down 18.8 percent) and 18,200 fewer women (down 20.2 percent). Self-employment has been decreasing since its peak in the December 2011 quarter.

The number of employers increased over the December 2012 year – up 40,300 (45.6 percent). Most of this increase was from males – up 31,400 (51.7 percent), while females increased 8,900 (32.2 percent). 'Employer' was the only employment type to increase. 

Fewer Pacific people in employment during 2012

The total number of employed people who identified with the Pacific peoples ethnic group fell over the year – down 15,600 (13.8 percent). The number of employed Pacific men decreased 9,600.

The total employment rate for Pacific peoples fell 5.0 percentage points to 50.1 percent for the year to December 2012. This is the lowest employment rate since the June 2010 quarter.

Unemployment falls for the quarter but up for the year

In the December 2012 quarter the unemployment rate fell to 6.9 percent, in seasonally adjusted terms. This is a 0.4 percentage-point fall from the previous quarter. However, over the year unemployment was up 0.5 percentage points.

The number of unemployed people fell 10,000 (down 6.0 percent) for the quarter, to 163,000. The number of unemployed men fell 11,000 (down 12.2 percent), to 79,000. The number of unemployed women remained steady, at 84,000.

The male unemployment rate fell for the latest quarter while the female unemployment rate rose. The unemployment rate for men decreased 0.8 percentage points, to 6.3 percent, back to the levels seen in the period from the December 2010 to the June 2012 quarters. The female unemployment rate continued to rise, up 0.2 percentage points to 7.6 percent. This is the fourth consecutive increase in the female unemployment rate. 

 Graph, Unemployed, quarterly, December 2008 to December 2012.  Graph, Unemployment rate, quarterly, December 2008 to December 2012.

Rise in number of younger people in study over the year

During the December 2012 quarter, the NEET (not in employment, education or training) rate for youth (aged 15–24) increased 0.8 percentage points, to 14.2 percent. The youth NEET rate has been increasing since the June 2012 quarter. The female youth NEET rate rose for the fifth consecutive quarter – up 1.6 percentage points to 17.5 percent. The male NEET rate continued to be relatively flat, with a 0.1 percentage point rise to 11.0 percent.

The 15–19-year NEET  rate increased 0.3 percentage points to 9.6 percent over the quarter. However, over the same period, 18,000 more 15–19-year-olds were in education and training but not in employment. 

In unadjusted terms, over the year there was a large fall in the number aged 15–19 years in the labour force. The number who were unemployed rose (up 5,300) but there was a larger fall in employment (down 20,300). As a result, the15–19-year unemployment rate rose significantly – up 6.7 percentage points to 30.9 percent. 

In the year to December 2012, the 20–24-year age group had no significant movements. Their employment and unemployment rates both rose slightly. For the quarter, the 20–24-year NEET rate increased 1.3 percentage points, up to 18.5 percent.  

 Graph, NEET rate, seasonally adjusted, quarterly, December 2008 to December 2012.

 

Number outside labour force increases

Corresponding with the fall in the labour force, the number of people not in the labour force rose 42,000 (up 3.8 percent) over the quarter. This increase reflects new highs for both men and women not in the labour force.

In seasonally adjusted terms, the labour force contracted over the December 2012 quarter – down 33,000 people. The labour force is made up of employed and unemployed people. Over the quarter, there were falls in both female and male employment, as well as a fall in the number of unemployed men.

As a result of both employment and unemployment decreasing, the labour force participation rate fell 1.2 percentage points over the quarter, to 67.2 percent. The female labour force participation rate decreased 1.3 percentage points, to 61.7 percent, following their highest participation rate ever last quarter.   

Ageing population reflected in lower participation during 2012

The following figures are not seasonally adjusted, and are based on annual changes that were statistically significant unless otherwise stated.

Over the December 2012 year the number of older people not in the labour force increased in both the 65+ and 55–59-year age groups (up 19,000 and 6,100, respectively). The 65+ age group also had a large increase in its working-age population. The number of people not in the labour force who said they were retired had a large increase – up 20,400 (4.1 percent).

For those aged 35–39 years, their working-age population continued to decrease – down 9,600 over the December 2012 year. Their labour force fell 8,200.

The labour force fell for the 45–49-year age group. This reflected an 11,800 fall in the number in employment as well as a drop in their employment rate. Their working-age population fell 5,800.

Number of jobless rises over the year 

The following annual figures are not seasonally adjusted, and are based on changes that were statistically significant unless otherwise stated.

In the year to December 2012, the number of people in the jobless category increased 23,200 (up 8.9 percent) to 284,500. Jobless people are those who are either unemployed, available but not actively seeking work, or actively seeking but not available for work.

While the number of unemployed people fell in seasonally adjusted terms over the quarter, in unadjusted terms there were 9,800 more unemployed people for the year (up 6.5 percent). The rise in unemployment was a main contributor to the rise in the number of jobless. However, this rise was not significant. Those actively seeking but not available for work also contributed to the increase – up 9,700 (up 36.4 percent).

The number of unemployed people who said they had been looking for work for over a year rose 7,100, which included a 4,700 increase in male long-term unemployment.

Canterbury employment rises over the year

The following figures are not seasonally adjusted, and are based on annual changes.

In the year to December 2012, Canterbury employment rose 16,100 (5.2 percent), while unemployment remained flat and those not in the labour force fell. The increase in employment in Canterbury came entirely from males – up 17,100 (10.2 percent);  female employment remained relatively flat.

The total increase in employment included a 6,800 rise in the construction industry. This increase came entirely from an increase in males employed in the industry. 

Full-time employment increased 14,500 over the December 2012 year. This increase came from men – up 16,300. More people were also employed part-time.

The total number of actual and usual hours worked per week increased – up 5.7 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively.

The working-age population increased in Canterbury over the year. The growth in employment was larger than the growth in the working-age population and this meant the employment rate increased to 66.8 percent over the year, up from 64.6 percent in 2011. 

Excluding Canterbury from the national estimates shows a stronger decrease in employment over the year.

Supplementary tables with detailed data for the Canterbury region are included in this release. 
These are similar to tables 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 11, and 14 from the main tables. Data in the tables for the Canterbury region are all unadjusted.

To view these tables, see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

Labour markets of other regions

Over the December 2012 year, the number of people not in the labour force in the Wellington and Otago regions increased – by 13,200 (11.8 percent) and 9,000 (17.6 percent), respectively. Otago also had an 11,900 fall in employment and a 13,100 fall in the labour force.

The Auckland region had no significant annual movements – employment fell slightly, unemployment rose, and there was a larger rise in the number of people not in the labour force.

Longer time series

The following graphs show the HLFS series for the employment rate, the labour force participation rate, and the unemployment rate over a 15-year period. A complete time series from March 1986 onwards is available on Infoshare. 

 Graph, Unemployment rate, quarterly, December 1997 to December 2012.

 

Graph, Employment rate, quarterly, December 1997 to December 2012.

 

Graph, Labour force participation rate, quarterly, December 1997 to December 2012.

 

 For more detailed data see the Excel tables in the ‘Downloads’ box.