About the Household Labour Force Survey
The Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) provides a regular, timely, and comprehensive portrayal of New Zealand's labour force. Each quarter, Statistics New Zealand produces a range of statistics relating to employment, unemployment, and people not in the labour force.
The survey started in October 1985 and the first results published were for the March 1986 quarter.
The labour force category to which a person is assigned depends on their actual activity during a survey reference week.
This section includes definitions used in the HLFS release. These conform closely to the international standard definitions specified by the International Labour Organization.
Employed: people in the working-age population who, during the reference week, did one of the following:
- worked for one hour or more for pay or profit in the context of an employee/employer relationship or self-employment
- worked without pay for one hour or more in work which contributed directly to the operation of a farm, business, or professional practice owned or operated by a relative
- had a job but were not at work due to: own illness or injury, personal or family responsibilities, bad weather or mechanical breakdown, direct involvement in an industrial dispute, or leave or holiday.
Employment type: Four different employment types are measured by the HLFS: employee, employer, self-employment, and unpaid family worker. The HLFS defines a person as self-employed if they work for themselves and do not have any employees.
Employment rate: the number of employed people expressed as a percentage of the working-age population. The employment rate is closely linked to how the working-age population is defined. See Data quality for more details about how the employment rate used in this release is calculated.
Formal study statistics: to be participating in formal study, a person must be working towards a qualification that takes three or more months of full-time study to complete. Full-time study is defined as 20 or more hours per week.
Full-time/part-time status: full-time workers are those who usually work 30 hours or more per week, even if they did not do so in the survey reference week because of sickness, holidays, or other reasons. Part-time workers are those who usually work fewer than 30 hours per week.
Hours worked: actual hours are the number of hours a person worked in the reference week (including overtime). Usual hours refers to the number of hours a person normally works in a week (including overtime).
Jobless: people who are either officially unemployed, available but not seeking work, or actively seeking but not available for work. The ‘available but not seeking work’ category is made up of the ‘seeking through newspaper only’, ‘discouraged’, and ‘other’ categories.
Labour force: members of the working-age population, who during the survey reference week, were classified as 'employed' or 'unemployed’.
Labour force participation rate: the total labour force expressed as a percentage of the working-age population. Labour force participation is closely linked to how the working-age population is defined. See Data quality for more details about how the labour force participation rate used in this release is calculated.
NEET rate: The rate is calculated as the total number of youth (aged 15–24 years) who are not in education, employment, or training (NEET), as a proportion of the total youth working-age population.
Not in the labour force: any person in the working-age population who is neither employed nor unemployed. For example, this residual category includes people who:
- are retired
- have personal or family responsibilities such as unpaid housework and childcare
- attend educational institutions
- are permanently unable to work due to physical or mental disabilities
- were temporarily unavailable for work in the survey reference week
- are not actively seeking work.
Seasonally adjusted series: adjusts the series to remove the seasonal component present when dealing with quarterly data. Seasonal patterns obscure the underlying behaviour of the series.
Statistically significant: is a statistical assessment of whether a change in the series is systematic or simply due to chance. Systematic movements occur when the change in the series is greater than its respective sampling error.
Trend Series: removes both the seasonal and irregular component of the series and reveals the underlying direction of movement in a series.
Underemployment: employed people who work part time (ie usually work less than 30 hours in all jobs) and would prefer to work more hours.
Unemployed: all people in the working-age population who during the reference week were without a paid job, available for work, and had either actively sought work in the past four weeks ending with the reference week, or had a new job to start within the next four weeks.
Unemployment rate: the number of unemployed people expressed as a percentage of the labour force.
Young people not in employment, education, or training (NEET): young people aged 15–24 years who are unemployed (part of the labour force) and not engaged in education or training, and those not in the labour force and not engaged in education or training for many reasons.
Working-age population: the usually resident, non-institutionalised, civilian population of New Zealand aged 15 years and over.
For more information on these definitions please refer to Labour force categories used in the Household Labour Force Survey.