UPFRONT Jobs records

New Zealand’s economy may have slowed but that hasn’t yet registered on the job market with unemployment hitting record lows and wage growth reaching the highest rates since Statistics NZ started its Quarterly Employer Surveys in 1992.
With job numbers expanding more quickly than anticipated in the three months to September, unemployment dropped to 3.4 percent, the lowest of all countries in the OECD. Labour-force participation is also at record levels – more than two thirds of all working age people, around 2.09 million of us, now have jobs.
Meantime, salary and wage rates rose 3.1 percent in the year to September and one percent in the September quarter – the largest annual and quarterly increases recorded in the series. The increase amounted to 2.8 percent in the private sector and 3.6 percent in the public sector.
Some economists are predicting that the employment figures will maintain momentum, possibly pushing unemployment below the three percent mark. However, there are signs the slowdown is already impacting on the manufacturing sector with the latest Business New Zealand PMI (performance of manufacturing index) dropping below 50 signalling contraction. This is more pronounced in the north, according to the Employers and Manufacturers Association (northern).
Very few of this month’s sample of nearly 200 northern manufacturers are still talking staff shortages, according to EMA’s manager of manufacturing services, Bruce Goldsworthy.
He says that with manufacturers employing some 300,000 people, the slowing trend suggests present high employment rates will not continue for much longer.

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