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New Zealand unemployment drops to 4% during Covid-19

New Zealand unemployment drops to 4% during Covid-19

Posted on 10th August 2020 by Russell Phillips

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June 2020 Quarter

Key facts

Labour market at a glance

  • Unemployment rate fell to 4.0 percent.
  • Underutilisation rate rose to 12.0 percent.
  • Employment rate fell to 66.9 percent.
  • Filled jobs fell 0.5 percent.
  • Average weekly earnings (including overtime) fell 2.8 percent
  • Wage rates increased 2.1 percent annually.


In the June 2020 quarter, unemployment and employment both fell, as more people were not in the labour force.

Underutilisation rose this quarter, as unemployment falls were outweighed by rises in underemployment (people working part-time who wanted and were available to increase their hours) and available potential jobseekers (jobless people who would have been unemployed if they had been actively looking for work).

Hours fell far more sharply than employment, reflecting reduced hours worked during lockdown by people who remained employed. Hours paid for by businesses in the quarterly employment survey (QES) fell less than hours actually worked in the household labour force survey (HLFS), as many businesses were able to continue to pay some or all wages over the quarter.

Wages remained relatively static when quality and quantity controlled in the labour cost index (LCI), buoyed primarily by April’s minimum wage increase, but weekly earnings per FTE dropped sharply in the QES, as steady hourly pay could not compensate for falling weekly hours.

Note: Labour force status classifications unchanged in response to COVID-19

Stats NZ adheres to best practice and required standards set by the International Labour Organization (ILO). These standards have not been changed in response to COVID-19 to ensure international comparability and consistency of estimates.

Note: population reweight

This release incorporates revisions to historical household labour force survey data from the September 2018 quarter to the March 2020 quarter to account for the latest national population estimates. As such, figures published this quarter may differ from those previously published.

Household labour force survey estimated working-age population: June 2020 quarter shows the effects of this revision.


The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.0 percent in the June 2020 quarter, down from 4.2 percent last quarter.

  • For men, the unemployment rate fell to 3.6 percent, down from 4.0 percent last quarter.
  • For women, the unemployment rate rose to 4.4 percent, up from 4.3 percent.

The seasonally adjusted number of unemployed people fell to 111,000 (down 6,000).

  • 7,000 fewer men were unemployed.
  • 1,000 more women were unemployed.

The fall in the number of unemployed people coincided with a rise of 37,000 people not in the labour force.


The seasonally adjusted underutilisation rate rose to 12.0 percent this quarter, up from 10.4 percent last quarter. This was the largest quarterly rise recorded since the series began in 2004.

  • For men, the underutilisation rate rose to 9.4 percent, up from 8.3 percent.
  • For women, the underutilisation rate rose to 14.9 percent, up from 12.7 percent.