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New Zealand’s unemployment rate up at 3.6%

New Zealand’s unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.6 per cent in the June 2023 quarter, compared with 3.4 per cent last quarter, due to a rise in the working age population and people made themselves available to work, the statistics department said on Wednesday.

Stats NZ said that unemployment, along with underemployment and the potential labor force, is one of the components that comprise underutilisation, which is a broader measure of spare labour market capacity than unemployment alone, reports Xinhua news agency.

“Despite the strong quarterly increase, the June 2023 quarter underutilization rate remains relatively low compared with historical averages,” work and wellbeing statistics senior manager Becky Collett said.

There were more people in the labor force in the year to the June 2023 quarter, with the labor force participation rate reaching 72.4 per cent, the highest rate recorded since 1986, Collett said, adding people not in the labor force could include retirees, students not engaged in the labor market, full-time parents, or those unable to work due to illness or disability.

In the year to the June 2023 quarter, the employment rate reached 69.8 per cent, the highest rate recorded since 1986, statistics show.

Employment in tourism-related industries returned to pre-Covid levels in the June 2023 quarter, growing by 11 per cent annually, Collett said, adding approximately 9.5 per cent of employed people worked in key tourism-related industries in the June 2023 quarter.

“Despite its small size, a quarter of all annual employment growth was recorded in key tourism-related industries,” Collett said, adding the industries include accommodation, passenger transport, travel agencies, sightseeing operators, and cafes and restaurants.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said more than 110,000 people joined the paid workforce in the past year as the number of those in jobs hit a record high.

Wages continue to outpace inflation as the government’s economic plan supports businesses to add jobs, grow wages and ease cost of living pressures, Robertson said.

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