7 May 2014

Unemployment rate fails to drop

6:58 pm on 7 May 2014

The jobless rate remained steady at 6 percent in the March quarter, even though the number of jobs grew strongly, largely because strong migration means more people are available for work.

The market had expected an unemployment rate of about 5.8 percent.

Employment and unemployment generic photo.

Photo: RNZ

The government statistician said the participation rate, or the percentage of the population available for work, rose to a record at 69.3 percent while the number of jobs grew by 0.9 percent, stronger than the 0.6 percent growth economists were expecting.

Westpac economist Michael Gordon said the labour market indicators were mixed.

"We had pretty clear evidence of very strong growth and employment, and it's the third time in a row that we've had that finding. Overall, employment is up 3.7 percent on a year ago.

"On the other hand, to some degree, it was driven by a big increase in the labour force participation rate, so there's more and more people declaring themselves available for work.

"The message seems to be that we are going through a boom in economic activity at the moment, but we seem to be able to meet it by bringing more people actively into the workforce and as a result wage growth is still pretty subdued."