Employment in New Zealand

Cafe worker holds up EFTPOS machine while a customer swipes her card

Recent employment and labour market statistics.

Because the economic situation is changing daily, our information is also subject to change.

Employment statistics

At the end of September 2020, New Zealand had:

  • 2,709,000 employed
  • 151,000 unemployed people.

Increase in unemployment in September

September 2020 had the largest quarterly increase in unemployment since this statistical series began in 1986. The unemployment rate rose to 5.3%.

More people on jobseeker support in northern areas

The number of people on jobseeker support increased across New Zealand during 2020. Rates were higher in the North Island.

In Northland, 11.2% of the working age population was on a jobseeker support benefit at December 2020. For other regions the rates were:

  • Bay of Plenty – 9.3%
  • East Coast – 8.5%
  • Taranaki – 8.3%
  • Waikato – 7.8%'
  • Central (lower North Island) – 6.7%
  • Auckland – 6.4%
  • Nelson – 6.0% 
  • Canterbury – 5.6%
  • Southern South Island – 4.6%.

Labour market statistics

Over the year to September 2020, filled job numbers declined in:

  • accommodation and food services
  • wholesale trade
  • professional, scientific, technical, and administrative support services

Filled job numbers increased in:

  • construction
  • healthcare and social assistance
  • education and training.

Hours worked return to near pre-lockdown levels

The number of hours worked in the September 2020 quarter rose 9.4% from the previous quarter and were nearly back to pre-lockdown levels.

In the June quarter, hours worked had fallen by 10.2% from the quarter before.

Weekly survey shows continued job growth in December

According to Stats NZ's experimental weekly series, paid jobs were up 26,980 or 1.19% in the week ended 6 December 2020. This included:

  • primary industries – up 2,790 or 2.45%
  • industries which produce goods – up 2,820 or 0.66%
  • services industries – up 20,420 or 1.22%

Earlier in the year, paid jobs for most industries had declined.

Sources

  • Ministry of Social Development, 'Benefit Fact Sheets: Snapshot –  December 2020 Quarter', January 2021, (www.msd.govt.nz).
  • Stats NZ, 'Employment Indicators: Weekly as at 11 January 2121', 14 January 2021, (www.stats.govt.nz).
  • Stats NZ, 'Employment Rate', 4 November 2020, (www.stats.govt.nz).
  • Stats NZ, 'Labour Market Statistics: September 2020 quarter', 4 November 2020 (www.stats.govt.nz).

Updated 21 Jan 2021