New Zealand's unemployment rate is expected to remain much
the same as it was last year when figures are released
tomorrow, with the participation rate staying flat as more
jobs are added to the economy.
Statistics New Zealand will release its major measures of
wages and employment, with Westpac expecting unemployment to
have fallen to 6.1% in December from 6.2% in September and
ASB expecting an unemployment rate of 6.3%.
Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon said if unemployment
dropped to 6.1%, it would be the lowest since June 2009.
Near-term indicators of the labour market had been
unanimously positive but they had also been ''fairly
consistent'' in saying the improvement in the December
quarter was modest.
Job advertisements rose at a slightly faster pace, welfare
payments fell modestly, business confidence surveys showed a
lift in staff numbers and the Westpac McDermott Miller
employment confidence survey found perceptions of current job
opportunities were - by a narrow margin - the least negative
in five years.
''We're also wary there was a sharp drop in participation in
the December 2012 quarter, some of which may have been due to
more young people moving out of the labour force and into
Statistics NZ later said there was a distortion specific to
the survey but that did not exclude the possibility of a new
seasonal element to the job numbers, Mr Gordon said.
ASB economist Daniel Smith is expecting continued employment
growth in line with the general economic recovery.
''After a period in which employment growth lagged well
behind growth in the economy, the third-quarter 2013 showed a
very strong 1.2% quarter-on-quarter gain in the number of
people in work.
"The improving economic outlook, as well as indicators, such
as the number of firms planning to take on more workers,
suggest employment growth should strengthen over the year.''
Strong migration would have made a significant impact on
labour market dynamics.
Last year, New Zealand gained a net 22,500 immigrants.
The inflow was mainly driven by a drop-off in the number of
New Zealanders moving to Australia, along with a rise in the
number of Kiwis returning home from across the Tasman, Mr
Fewer job opportunities in Australia meant more New
Zealanders would stay at home to look for work or hold on to
jobs that would otherwise have gone to others.
Since the start of 2011, the economy has added more than
11,000 jobs in three out of 11 quarters, he said.