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Unemployment rate 6.6%

Thursday 5th May 2011

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The unemployment rate edged down to 6.6% in the March quarter, from 6.7%, as seasonally adjusted total employment rose by 30,000 or 1.4%.

At the same time, the number of unemployed fell by 2000, or 1.4%, to 155,000, Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) said today.

During the March quarter part time employment rose 4%, while full time employment gained just 0.5%. Usual hours worked per week rose by 1.2% but actual hours worked fell by 0.9%.

The labour force participation rate rose by 0.8 percentage points to a seasonally adjusted 68.7%, the highest level since December 2008.

The unemployment rate is 0.5 percentage points higher than it was a year ago, while the number of people unemployed is up 9.4%, and the number employed is up 1.8%. The labour force participation rate has lifted 0.7 percentage points.

SNZ said the Christchurch earthquake on February 22 had caused some disruption, with interviewing for the Household Labour Force Survey suspended in the city and in the Selwyn and Waimakariri districts.

That meant about 800 of the 2200 Canterbury households in the survey sample were not interviewed, SNZ said.

The usual estimation method had been altered for the quarter to account for that.

National estimates, excluding Canterbury, had also been produced. Those showed the number of employed people up 34,000, while the number of unemployed fell by 1000 during the March quarter, and the unemployment rate edged down to 6.7% from 6.8%.



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