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Jobless rate falls to near eight-year low

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 1/11/2016

<span style="font-size:13px;">The jobless rate has hit its lowest point for almost eight years to drop to 4.9 per cent.</span> © Reuters The jobless rate has hit its lowest point for almost eight years to drop to 4.9 per cent. New Zealand has recorded its best unemployment rate in almost eight years with third quarter figures falling to a better than expected 4.9 per cent.

The jobless rate declined from a revised 5.0 per cent in the June quarter, according to Stats NZ, taking it to its lowest point since December 2008.

There were 3,000 fewer people unemployed than in the previous quarter and 10,000 fewer over the year.

Employment grew 1.4 per cent in the quarter, outpacing a 0.5 per cent gain economists were picking, with rental, hiring and real estate services adding 5,000 jobs in the period.

That was also faster than a 0.7 per cent increase in the size of the working-age population, which helped drive up the participation rate to a record 70.1 per cent under the new methodology.

""The number of people employed in New Zealand was up 35,000, or 1.4 per cent, in the September 2016 quarter," labour and income statistics manager Mark Gordon said.

"This strong growth in employment, coupled with fewer unemployed people, pushed the unemployment rate below 5.0 per cent for the first time in nearly eight years."

Employment Minister Steven Joyce said more jobs and higher wages were helping Kiwi's get ahead.

"For the first time Statistics New Zealand has recorded data on employment relationships which shows that 90 per cent of people in paid employment are in permanent jobs. This confirms the vast majority of New Zealanders are in stable, long-term employment," he said.

Act leader David Seymour welcomed there results and said it signalled time for a tax cut.

"As more people move into employment the government sucks up extra revenue from income tax and spends less on benefits. That creates space to give workers some long-awaited tax relief," he said.

The New Zealand dollar rose to 72.05 US cents from 71.81 cents immediately before the report was released. The trade-weighted index climbed to 77.49 from 77.16.

Wage inflation remained muted, with the ordinary time private sector labour cost index increasing 0.4 per cent in the quarter, unchanged from the previous quarter, while public sector wages rose 0.7 per cent in the quarter, due largely to new collective agreements for nurses, primary teachers and police.

Auckland accounted for more than half of the new jobs added in the quarter, though its unemployment rate ticked up to 5.3 per cent from 4.7 per cent as more people entered the labour force.

The Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough, West Coast region had the lowest unemployment rate at 2.8 per cent, while Northland's was still the highest at 7.6 per cent.

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