Seasonally unadjusted unemployment rose in both Otago and
Southland in the three months ended September, but the
seasonal nature of the figures makes interpretation
Otago-Southland Employers Association chief executive John
Scandrett said when he looked closely at the latest
Statistics NZ figures, they were not as negative as he first
"Today, I've spoken with a prominent city manufacturing
concern which has experienced recent demand slippage from
Australian customers. While they have been forced to adjust
temporary employee numbers downward, they are anticipating an
early new year ordering lift and they are confident this will
lead to rehiring."
Another local manufacturer and exporter had increased staff
numbers on a gradual but consistent basis throughout the year
and expected that trend to continue, Mr Scandrett said.
A "respected" Dunedin-based construction and decorating firm
principal said he had a strong order book but was finding it
difficult to find appropriately experienced staff.
"But the overall message seems to be that, while there is
nervousness and uncertainty around many local labour market
elements, some employers - especially those in niche markets
- were doing very well and their employee numbers were
stable," Mr Scandrett said.
Statistics NZ figures showed the Otago unemployment rate rose
from 4.6% in June to 5% in September and the Southland rate
rose from 4.3% in June to 5.3% in September.
A closer look at the figures shows the number of people
employed in Otago fell from 121,300 in June to 113,800 in
September, while the number of unemployed rose from 5900 to
6000. But the total labour force, as measured by Statistics
NZ, fell to 119,800 in September from 127,200 in June - a
fall of 7400.
In Southland the number of people in work increased to 58,200
in September from 57,100 and at the same time, the number of
unemployed grew to 3300 from 2600. Southland's total labour
force increased to 61,500 in September from 59,600 in June.
Otago's working-age population fell in September to 176,900
from 184,100 in June. In Southland, the working-age
population increased 2000 in September to 83,000.
Mr Scandrett said the "breath-taking reality" of yesterday's
figures were that in parts of the country, unemployment
levels were sitting at 8%-10%. On a comparative basis, Otago
at 5% and Southland at 5.3% looked quite positive.
Local levels of unemployment painted a picture of ongoing
labour hardship across tourism, retail and selected
construction activities and as regional manufacturing was
generally sitting close to break-even, it was hard to find
anything concrete pointing towards an improvement in
employment, he said.
• Otago: 5% in September, 4.6% in June.
• Southland: 5.3% in September, 4.3% in June.