Job growth and the labour market

Where the job growth is and what's happening in the New Zealand labour market in 2017-2018.

Employment rate at historic high

A man and a woman in high-vis vests in a construction site

2018 saw the highest ever rate of female employment. Photo: Alex Wallace Photography

In June 2018, New Zealand's employment rate was an all-time high of 67.7 percent, with 2,600,000 people in work. The employment rate for women, 62.8 percent, is the highest since records began 30 years ago.

  • People who work in a paid job or an unpaid job for a family business for at least one hour a week are considered to be employed.

Main job growth areas

A female doctor talks to an older boy who is sitting on a bench in a consultation room

The healthcare area has seen a large increase in employment

In 2017, four types of work and three regions had the highest employment growth.

Types of work with highest employment growth:

  • Professional and administrative services – an increase of 25,000 people in work
  • Construction –  an increase of 12,900
  • Manufacturing – an increase of 11,000
  • Heathcare and social assistance – an increase of 7,800.

Regions with highest employment growth:

  • Auckland – an increase of 30,000 people in work
  • Waikato – an increase of 18,000
  • Wellington – an increase of 16,000.

A significant amount of construction and manufacturing growth also occurred outside the main centres.

Employers have trouble finding workers

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) reports that labour shortages are becoming more acute:

  • 49 percent of businesses had trouble finding skilled labour
  • 31 percent of businesses had trouble finding unskilled labour.

MBIE forecasts that total employment will grow by 150,000 people in the years to 2020 and the largest growth will be in:

  • Business services, construction and utilities, and healthcare and social assistance
  • Auckland, Waikato and rural South Island regions
  • Highly skilled occupations.

Unemployment, underutilisation and people outside the labour force

Unemployment rate

In June 2018, the official unemployment rate was 4.5 percent, one of lowest since 2008.

  • People who are without a paid job, are available for work and are actively looking for work are considered to be unemployed. People who would like to work but have given up looking are not included.

Underutilisation rate

The underutilisation rate is 12 percent, down from a high of 15 percent in 2012.

  • People who are working less than 30 hours a week but want more work, plus those who are unemployed, whether or not they have given up looking for a job, are considered to be underutilised.

People outside the labour force

Certain people are not counted as part of the labour force.

  • People who are retired, involved with childcare or other family responsibilities, students, or have physical or mental conditions which mean they are unable to work, are not considered to be in the labour force.

Help getting a job

These results are for the country as a whole. There are large variations by region, ethnicity and age group. If you're struggling to get a job, there is help available. 

Sources

  • Bracewell-Worrall, A, ‘Unemployment: Bad news NZ, It’s Much Worse than You Think’, Newshub, 4 August 2017.
  • MBIE, ‘December 2017 Quarterly Labour Market Report’, February 2018, (mbie.govt.nz).
  • Stats NZ, ‘Employment Highest Ever for Women’, 1 August 2018, (www.stats.govt.nz)

Updated 28 Nov 2018