7 Aug 2013

Unemployment rises to 6.4%

6:55 pm on 7 August 2013

Unemployment has risen and wage growth is slowing, despite signs the labour market is gradually improving.

Official figures from Statistics New Zealand show unemployment rose to 6.4% in the three months to June, compared with 6.2% in the previous quarter.

The state of the labour market is mixed.

An extra 46,000 people found work in the first half of the year, while the number of youth not in employment, education or training fell to its lowest levels since late 2008.

However many of the jobs created were in earthquake-hit Canterbury, which offset job losses in most other regions.

While unemployment among Europeans fell, Maori unemployment remained flat and joblessness among Pacific people soared.

Wage growth slowed, which economists say will take some pressure off the Reserve Bank which is already worried about the effects of an overheated housing market on inflation.

Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens says the Reserve Bank is likely to find some comfort in the figures.

"Overall looking through short-term volatility the labour market is on a very gradually improving path, however there are still plenty of people unemployed so labour remains quite available and there's little evidence of upward pressure on wages."

The moderate recovery prompted more people to search for work, boosting the number of people out of work to 153,000.