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Statistics NZ delays survey release

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 29/07/2016 Paul McBeth

Statistics New Zealand will delay publishing the household labour force survey by two weeks to ensure the report meets standards after it modified the series this year.

The official labour force statistics were due to be released next week but are now scheduled to be published on Aug. 17, the government department said in a statement. The labour cost index, which measures wage inflation, and the quarterly employment survey will still be published on Aug. 3.

"Statistics NZ is committed to producing the best-quality information possible and we apologise for any inconvenience to people who use this information," said labour market and household statistics senior manager Diane Ramsay.

The household labour force survey is often volatile, and a reported drop in the December unemployment rate raised eyebrows by economists when the jobless rate when in the opposite direction to participation. Still, the delay means the figures won't be available in time for the Reserve Bank's monetary policy statement due out on Aug. 11.

The delay comes after three of the major bank economics teams published their forecasts for the labour data. ANZ and Westpac predicted the unemployment rate would slip to 5.1 per cent in the June quarter from 5.2 per cent, with quarterly jobs growth of 0.8 per cent. ASB Bank predicted a tick up in unemployment to 5.3 per cent with employment growth of 0.6 per cent.

All three forecasts saw an increase in the participation rate, with ANZ and ASB predicting 68.8 per cent and Westpac expecting 68.9 per cent. The rate was 68.7 per cent in the March quarter.

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