More find work in Waikato, but not young
CECILE MEIER, JAMES WEIR AND JAMIE SMALL
Employment in the Waikato increased in line with the national trend and sits at 65.2 per cent.
However the unemployment rate for the region is 7 per cent, 1.4 per cent higher than in March last year and 1 per cent higher than the national rate, Statistics New Zealand figures out today show.
Waikato Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sandra Perry said most of the unemployment is in the younger sector of the population.
"We have higher than the national average youth in our region," she said. "And that, in the long term, is a positive for us."
She said most other parts of the country have an aging population.
The chamber will be speaking to Work and Income New Zealand about how to lower unemployment.
"As the business community we need to address this," said Perry. "That might be ensuring our youth have the necessary skills to find work."
The Household Labour Force Survey reports a 11,900 rise in jobs in the retail trade and accommodation and food services industry group, and a 11,900 rise in the construction industry.
A person has to work only an hour a week to be counted as employed.
Nationwide, employment was strong.
In the March quarter, the number of people in work grew by 22,000, but the labour force grew by the same amount, leaving unemployment at 6 per cent.
Canterbury stood out, with its unemployment rate dropping 0.1 of a percentage point to 3.3 per cent while the national rate remains stuck at 6 per cent.
In the year to March, 29,100 more Canterbury people were employed compared with a year ago, with an employment rate of 69.9 per cent.
The figures show that average wages are up 1.6 per cent in the past year, just a fraction ahead of annual inflation at 1.5 per cent.
Westpac Bank economists said jobs grew strongly in the March quarter, but with more people saying they were available for work, unemployment held steady and wage growth was "even softer than expected".
That meant there was less urgency for the Reserve Bank to raise official interest rates, with less underlying pressure on the job market.
Underneath the headline figures, job growth was "pervasively strong", with the household-based measure of jobs up 0.9 per cent in the March quarter.
Annual wage inflation, as measured by the labour cost index salary and wage rates (including overtime), was 1.6 per cent.