UPFRONT : NZ employment sets new records

The economy may have eased, but 2006 has still notched up some record employment figures, according to the Department of Labour (DOL).
Its latest report on employment notes that number of records have been broken in the most recent Household Labour Force Survey – strong rise in full-time employment (three percent since the start of 2006) led to record low rates of unemployment (3.6 percent) and of underemployment (people who would work longer hours if they could). record high proportion of working-age people (66.3 percent) are now in full-time work.
The first half of 2006 has also seen large rise in the proportion of working-age people participating in the labour market – this lifted from 67.9 percent as at December 2005 to record 68.8 percent at June 2006.
A tight labour market has inevitably impacted on wage growth but this may now have peaked and is likely to ease slightly over the coming year, says the DOL.
After peaking at its highest value since being started in 1992, the Labour Cost Index eased back from 3.3 percent in March to 3.2 percent in the June quarter. This was echoed in the Quarterly Employment Survey which dropped from 5.2 percent in March to 4.4 percent.
However, the DOL report notes that continuing low unemployment and consumer inflation will continue to put upwards pressure on wages and it expects wage growth to remain high.

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