New Zealand Unemployment Rate Falls to Lowest Since December 2008

New Zealand's unemployment rate fell again in the second quarter, sliding to 4.8% from 4.9% three months earlier, to its lowest level since December 2008, Statistics New Zealand said Wednesday.

"In the June 2017 quarter, 3,000 fewer people were unemployed," labor market and households senior manager Diane Ramsay said in a statement. "The unemployment rate for women fell to 4.9%, with 10,000 fewer women unemployed--the lowest it's been since March 2009." In contrast, the male unemployment rate rose to 4.7%.

The jobless rate came in below the 4.9% forecast by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. The labor force participation rate was 70%, compared with 70.6% in the previous quarter.

The number of people employed in New Zealand was up 3.1% on year in the second quarter, but down 0.2% compared with the previous three months.

New Zealand's agriculture-rich economy is growing strongly, supported by all-time high migration flows, solid commodity prices and record-low interest rates.

Business confidence is also strong, while homeowners are enjoying wealth gains through soaring property prices.

The jobless rate had dropped sharply from 5.2% in the last three months of 2016, indicating a tightening of the labor market. But some economists say the labor market still can't be characterized as tight outside the construction industry, and that a lower jobless rate is needed before wage growth gains momentum.

The latest data showed that private-sector wages rose 1.6% in the second quarter from a year earlier, and were 0.4% higher than three months earlier. Wages grew 1.5% on year in the first quarter.

Write to Ben Collins at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 01, 2017 19:26 ET (23:26 GMT)