Employment in New Zealand

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Find out about recent New Zealand employment and labour market statistics.

Note – the economic situation is changing rapidly so our information is subject to change.

Employment statistics

At the end of December 2020, New Zealand had:

  • 2,734,000 employed people
  • 141,000 unemployed people.

Drop in unemployment

New Zealand's unemployment rate dropped from 5.3% in the September 2020 quarter to 4.9% in the December 2020 quarter.

However, employment rates were still lower than in December 2019. Twenty five thousand more people were unemployed in December 2020 than in December 2019.

More people in business

Numbers of self-employed people and business owners rose in the year to December 2020, with:

  • 30,000 more self-employed people
  • 49,100 more business owners.

More people on job seeker support in northern areas

The number of people on job seeker support benefits increased across New Zealand in 2020 and 2021. Rates were mainly higher in the North Island.

In Northland, 11.3% of the working age population was on a job seeker support benefit in January 2021. For other regions, the rates were:

  • Gisborne – 10.9%
  • Bay of Plenty – 9.3%
  • West Coast – 8.5%
  • Taranaki – 8.3%
  • Manawatu-Whanganui – 7.9%
  • Hawke's Bay – 7.7%
  • Waikato – 7.5%
  • Taranaki – 7.3%
  • Tasman – 6.6%
  • Auckland – 6.5%
  • Wellington – 6.1%
  • Canterbury – 5.6%
  • Marlborough – 5.3%
  • Southland – 5.1%
  • Nelson – 4.7%
  • Otago – 3.9%.

Oversupply and undersupply lists

Work and Income lists jobs that are in oversupply and undersupply in certain regions. Oversupply means there are too many people skilled and available to do a particular job. Undersupply means there are enough jobs, but not enough people skilled or available to do that job.

If a job is in undersupply you are more likely to be able to get that job as it's in demand.

Checking these lists are helpful if you are planning to train for a particular career, retrain or thinking about moving regions.

 

Labour market statistics

Over the year to December 2020, the number of filled jobs rose by 13,000 to 2.3 million. 

Filled job numbers increased in:

  • health care and social assistance – up 8,816 jobs
  • construction – up 8,563
  • public administration and safety – up 7,630
  • education and training – up 5,549.

However, filled job numbers decreased in:

  • accommodation and food services – down 7,722 jobs
  • administrative and support services – down 5,240
  • transport, postal and warehousing – down 4,871
  • arts and recreation services – down 3,169.

Sources

  • Ministry of Social Development, 'Income Support Weekly Update', 22 January 2021, (www.msd.govt.nz).
  • Stats NZ, 'Employment Rate', 3 February 2021, (www.stats.govt.nz).
  • Stats NZ, 'Jobs Up in December but Annual Growth Slows', 29 January 2021, (www.stats.govt.nz).
  • Stats NZ, 'Labour Market Statistics: December 2020 Quarter', 3 February 2020, (www.stats.govt.nz).
  • Stats NZ, 'Unemployment Rate', 3 February 2021, (www.stats.govt.nz).

Updated 27 Apr 2021