Data tipped to show 6.5% jobless rate

Employement levels appeared to hold up well in the first half of the year, but data out tomorrow is still expected to show an unemployment level of 6.5% for the country.

Statistics New Zealand's quarterly employment survey showed, according to various measures, employment demand was consistently strong in the three months ended June, during which there was a 0.7% increase in filled jobs, a 1.1% increase in full-time-equivalent employees and a 2.1% recovery in hours paid.

ASB economist Jane Turner said that the strong second-quarter results did follow subdued results in March.

"Looking at the underlying trend over the first half of the year, a gradual recovery in the labour market remains in place.

"This is likely to be led by recovery in Christchurch."

Statistics NZ noted that in the past year, half of the annual increase in filled jobs had come from three industries - accommodation and food services, construction and transport, postal services and warehousing.

Growth in those industries was consistent with recovery in Canterbury, Ms Turner said.

Accommodation and food services was the sector hardest hit by the Christchurch central business district closures in the wake of the February 2011 quake.

The recovery in that industry suggested some return to normal activity, she said.

The lift in construction, transport and warehousing is likely to be underpinned by preparations for rebuilding in the coming year.

"The results leave us more confident in our expectation of a 0.4% lift in employment for Thursday's household labour force survey release. We now see some upside risk to this outcome."

ASB expected the unemployment rate to fall to 6.5% from 6.7%, but that could fall further if there was more "correction" in the participation rate after an unusually strong increase in the first quarter, Ms Turner said.


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