Unemployment statistics for June quarter 2020

The Unemployment statistic for the June quarter 2020 caused some surprise, dropping from 4.2% in the first quarter to 4.0% averaged over April, May and June, but this has been explained with less people unable to look for or start new jobs due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

And the trend is ominously upwards.

The number of people employed fell by 11,000, and 90% of the reduction were women, who work more in the most affected sectors of tourism, hospitality and retail.

With a lot of the recovery targeting construction, dominated by male employees, the outlook for many women looks a bit grim.

Statistics NZ: COVID-19 lockdown has widespread effects on labour market

In the June 2020 quarter:

  • unemployment rate fell to 4.0 percent
  • underutilisation rate rose to 12.0 percent
  • hours worked fell a record 10.3 percent
  • the number of people not in the labour force rose 37,000
  • the number of employed people fell 11,000
  • the wage subsidy scheme was in place from 17 March 2020.

With the country in COVID-19 lockdown when the quarter began, fewer people who did not have a job were actively seeking work. People who were not actively seeking work were not counted as unemployed, resulting in a fall in the unemployment rate. However, many of these people were captured as underutilised.

To be counted as unemployed, a person must have been actively seeking work in the last four weeks or be due to start a new job in the next four weeks. Actively seeking work means going beyond browsing job vacancies. It means the person is going beyond browsing, for example, by applying for jobs (by submitting their CV) or contacting employers.

For obvious reasons there were less job vacancies and less people actively seeking jobs during the lockdown.

“Underutilisation – a broader measure of spare capacity in the labour market – and hours worked provide a more detailed picture of New Zealand’s labour market than the unemployment rate alone. This quarter, underutilisation rose from 10.4 percent to 12.0 percent – the largest quarterly rise since the series began, while hours worked were down by over 10 percent – another record,” labour market and household statistics senior manager Sean Broughton said.

This quarter, the number of unemployed people fell. At the same time, the number of underemployed people rose by 33,000 and available potential jobseekers rose by 18,900.

Record fall in hours

The total number of hours actually worked in the June 2020 quarter fell 9.3 million hours (10.3 percent) compared with last quarter and decreased 8.2 million hours (9.1 percent) compared with a year ago. These were the largest decreases recorded since the series began in 1986.

Paid hours, as collected in the quarterly employment survey (QES), measure the hours a business paid for, whether their employees were working or on paid leave. Paid hours fell by 3.4 percent over the June 2020 quarter, down to 60.6 million hours (seasonally adjusted). This was the largest quarterly fall in hours paid since the current series began in 1989. The annual decrease (down 1.9 percent) was the largest annual decrease since the December 2009 quarter.

The maximum Covid wage subsidy can only be obtained if workers keep working 80% of their of ‘full time’ hours, and many people has their hours cut by 20%.

Slight fall in employment and jobs

The employment rate fell to 66.9 percent in the June 2020 quarter, down from 67.5 percent last quarter. This reflected a fall in the number of people employed (down 11,000) and a rise in the working-age population (up 20,000).

The fall in the number of people in employment and unemployment this quarter resulted in the labour force participation rate falling to 69.7 percent, down from 70.5 percent (revised) last quarter.

The number of people not in the labour force rose (up 37,000) this quarter, while the number of people in the labour force fell (down 17,000). This was the largest fall in the number of people in the labour force recorded since the global financial crisis.

Filled jobs, as measured by the QES, fell 10,800 in the June 2020 quarter to 1,989,400.

COVID-19 alert system and key events timeline

So with the wage subsidy ending this month the employment crunch is likely to start next month. There are already signals that more jobs will be lost from September, but this could be spread over several months. For example H&J Smith have announced they will close their Dunedin store in January, and will be closing a number of other stores too.

Also from Statistics NZ:

RNZ: What’s lurking behind the four percent job figure?

‘Beware’ and ‘unbelievable’ were the first words Kiwibank’s chief economist Jarrod Kerr used to describe the four percent figure just minutes after the Household Labour Force Survey for the June quarter was released yesterday.

Today, Kerr explains to the Detail’s Sharon Brettkelly what’s behind the numbers.

“The unemployment rate itself is rubbish,” he says – stating a more realistic number is closer to five percent. Underlying numbers tell the real story – 11,000 people laid off, of which 10,000 are women.

The number of people participating in the workforce dropped to 69.7 from 70.5 percent. If you lose your job, not everyone goes onto an unemployment benefit. Kerr has heard of many older people in Auckland who lost their job and are using the opportunity to leave, and head out into the regions. “You have actually lost a worker, and that doesn’t show up in the unemployment rate.”

The under-utilisation rate – showing the numbers of people who want more work – rose from 10 percent to 12 percent, which is the biggest jump in decades. The employment rate is down, wage growth is soft.

“When you were in lockdown you weren’t considered to be unemployed,” he says. “One of the questions asked is, ‘are you actively seeking work?’

“I think it’s ridiculous the Stats department actually published that . We need an ounce of credibility in these figures and we know that the current unemployment rate is nowhere near four percent and it’s just a product of a poor survey in a very difficult time. It’s the publishing of a number that no one can believe.”

Some want to believe the number, or want to promote it for political purposes, but if you look at all the numbers, the reasons and the upward trend in unemployment it becomes believable.

Stuff: Politicians say unemployment crunch will come in September, as official rate marginally drops

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says a drop in the official unemployment rate is a “good result”, but the toughest times for workers will come in September.

There would be no extension to the wage subsidy, and workers who lose their job can receive the Covid-19 income relief payment for 12 weeks. Robertson said the payments, at $490 a week, were “effectively the equivalent of the wage subsidy scheme”.

“We’ve always said that it would be the September quarter where we would see the most impact, but [the unemployment rate] does show that the New Zealand economy has been robust, and that the wage subsidy scheme has done what we wanted it to do.”

To really see the effect of Covid on unemployment we will get a better idea from the next two quarters (we won’t know the December quarter numbers until next year) and the flow on effect could run for a year or two.

And what we don’t know is what is going to happen with Covid – whether we have another outbreak here, how long our borders remain virtually closed, and what effect the world economic situation will have. It is likely to be somewhere between tough and grim.

Sexuality, statistics, and blog ignorance and intolerance

Sexuality is talked a lot more these days. This is generally a good thing, although not when it’s like this:

Juana Atkins (SB) at Whale Oil:  Human Rights Commission Goes ‘Full Retard’

The Human Rights Commission have created a ridiculous engagement survey that lists various mental disorders as genders for participants to choose from. Instead of being asked if the participant is male or female they list no less than TEN options to choose from.

So what are the ten choices that the ‘woke’ Human Rights Commission have included as made up genders to choose from?

  • Male
  • Female
  • Transgender
  • Takatapui
  • Genderfluid
  • Non-binary
  • Agender
  • Don’t know
  • Prefer not to say
  • Self-describe

Six of the gender options in the survey are completely made up. One option is that the person doesn’t know what gender they are and the other is that they would prefer not to say. There is zero scientific or biological basis to the six other options. They are lies and falsehoods created to make those who suffer from a mental disorder feel that their delusion is real.

Read my lips. There are only two genders, male and female.

This is both arrogant and ignorant, unless Atkins is deliberately stirring up intolerance.

Oxford dictionary:


1  Either of the two sexes (male and female), especially when considered with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones. The term is also used more broadly to denote a range of identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female.

1.1 Members of a particular gender considered as a group

1.2 The fact or condition of belonging to or identifying with a particular gender.

Wikipedia: Gender

Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, masculinity and femininity. Depending on the context, these characteristics may include biological sex (i.e., the state of being male, female, or an intersex variation), sex-based social structures (i.e., gender roles), or gender identity.

Most cultures use a gender binary, having two genders (boys/men and girls/women);[4] those who exist outside these groups fall under the umbrella term non-binary or genderqueer.

Historically, many if not most societies have recognized only two distinct, broad classes of gender roles, a binary of masculine and feminine, largely corresponding to the biological sexes of male and female.

However, some societies have historically acknowledged and even honored people who fulfill a gender role that exists more in the middle of the continuum between the feminine and masculine polarity. For example, the Hawaiian māhū, who occupy “a place in the middle” between male and female, or the Ojibwe ikwekaazo, “men who choose to function as women”, or ininiikaazo, “women who function as men”.

The hijras of India and Pakistan are often cited as third gender. Another example may be the muxe found in the state of Oaxaca, in southern Mexico. The Bugis people of Sulawesi, Indonesia have a tradition that incorporates all the features above.

In addition to these traditionally recognized third genders, many cultures now recognize, to differing degrees, various non-binary gender identities. People who are non-binary (or genderqueer) have gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine. They may identify as having an overlap of gender identities, having two or more genders, having no gender, having a fluctuating gender identity, or being third gender or other-gendered.

Recognition of non-binary genders is still somewhat new to mainstream Western culture, and non-binary people may face increased risk of assault, harassment, and discrimination.

In her post Atkins promoted harassment and discrimination, and both were evident in the comments on her post. The first comment:

I think a lot of people are getting very tired of a small minority inflicting this time wasting insanity on the majority and would like an “F Off” option.

That appears to breach WO commenting rules, but they apply them selectively.

The HRC Community Engagement stated:

The purpose of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) is to promote and protect human rights of all people in Aotearoa New Zealand. We work for a free, fair, safe and just New Zealand, where diversity is valued, and human dignity and rights are respected.

That should include the right to choose individuals to choose what gender they identify with, and to not be subject to the imposition of rigid binary gender options, or to be ridiculed, abused and demeaned by those who are intolerant of differences.

People who feel their gender doesn’t fit within a rigid male/female construct are in a small minority, but they face difficulties due to discrimination and worse from the majority.

Statistics NZ: New sexual identity wellbeing data reflects diversity of New Zealanders

For the first time, wellbeing data for people of different sexual identities has been collected as part of the 2018 General Social Survey (GSS), Stats NZ said today.

This information is an important step towards better reflecting the diversity across New Zealand in official statistics.

A person’s sexual identity is how they think of their own sexuality and which terms they identify with.

  • 96.5% identifying as heterosexual or straight
  • 1.9% identifying as bisexual
  • 1.1% identifying as gay/lesbian
  • 0.5% identified as other identities (includes terms such as takatāpui, asexual, pansexual, others)

3.5% seems a small number, but that equates to about 168,000 people in New Zealand.

And it looks like it could increase as strict as oppressive legal and social pressures continue to change.

By age group:

  • 18-24: 0.8% gay/lesbian, 5.4% bisexual (total 6.4%)
  • 24-44: 1.5% gay/lesbian, 2.6% bisexual (total 4.1%)
  • 45-64: 1.2% gay/lesbian, 0.9% bisexual (total 2.1%)
  • 65+: 0.6% gay/lesbian, 0.1% bisexual (total 0.7%)

The higher total numbers in the 18-24 age group are probably due to different factors, including reducing social pressures on being ‘different’, and greater experimentation as young adults.

Most of those identifying as bisexual when young seem to decide on heterosexual  as they get older.

It is likely these numbers are also affected by different life risks and expectancies.

Higher levels of discrimination are not surprising, but it’s not as high as I thought it would be.

Discriminated against in the last year:

  • 39% of bisexual people
  • 34% of gay/lesbian people
  • 16% of of people identifying as straight or heterosexual

Heterosexual people feeling discriminated against may seem odd, but comments at WO give some indication as to why this may be:

By giving groups additional rights they in fact create other groups with fewer rights. Gay people, black people, women all get special privileges and whenever a new group self identifies they get additional rights. Human rights are individual, and apply to everyone.

They aren’t given ‘additional rights’, they are given rights that the majority have enjoyed.

What about pale, stale and male rights, perhaps we should not be compelled to die on the battlefield protecting everyone else rights?

I doubt that AWB has risked their life on a battlefield protecting anyone’s rights, let alone minority rights.

Other findings:

  • Bisexual people less satisfied with life
  • One-third of bisexual people report poor mental wellbeing
  • Gay/lesbian and bisexual people find it harder to express their identity
  • Gay/lesbian people the most socially connected with friends and less lonely

David Farrar posted on it at Kiwiblog: Stats Sexuality data – he stated facts and little else, but comments were heavily leaning towards intolerance and abuse, as well as claiming to be victims.

‘the deity formerly known as nigel6888’:

So we are turning over all of society for precisely nobody’s benefit

Good oh!

These weirdos can’t even manage 1% but we let them drive social policy. Remarkable!


And all this PC BS for such small numbers. Why? All in the name of inclusiveness as espoused by our PM perhaps?
What a joke! Don’t forget, some of our laws are written around such garbage, not to mention the dreaded ‘hate speech’.


Yeah. It isn’t cool to be known as straight, white, or male anymore.

So, I suspect a lot of young people would answer any way to avoid those options.

93.6% of young people surveyed didn’t avoid the straight option. I think it’s more likely that non-binary gender options are under-represented.


So why are we wasting so much money on homosexuals and other associated weirdos putting things into place to placate them?

Comments at Kiwiblog seem to have moved further towards a small minority of recently disaffected and increasingly grumpy people, mostly males. They are far from representative of the general population, but intolerance of differences in sexuality is still rife in some pockets of society.

Fortunately there’s a lot more understanding and tolerance of differences in sexuality generally these days, especially in Parliament, in the Public Service and in law.

Consenting adults should be free to choose their sexuality free from discrimination and abuse.

Personally I have always felt straight or heterosexual, but I’m happy to let others choose for themselves what their sexuality or gender is to them.

Marriage and divorce rates down

It’s not surprising to see that marriage rates are down, and it is inevitable that with fewer people getting married, there are also fewer divorces.

NZH: New Zealand marriage rates are falling, Statistics NZ figures show

Despite a steadily rising population, the general marriage rate has dropped, according to Statistics NZ.

In 1992, the marriage rate was 18.3 couples per 1000 people eligible to marry (or form a civil union from 2005). This has dropped to 10.9 couples in 2017.

“The highest number of marriages and civil unions in the last 25 years was in 2008, when 22,275 couples celebrated,” said population insights senior manager Brooke Theyers.

“The lowest number was in 2013, when 19,425 couples celebrated.”

But the number of divorces had also dropped over the past 25 years.

In 2017, 8001 couples split up and the number of divorces per 1000 existing marriages was 8.4.

This was in comparison to a divorce rate of 11.9 in 1992.

Marriage rates are falling in New Zealand and in the United Kingdom and Australia.

The declining divorce rate has lagged the drop in marriages, but if less people are married it follows that less will divorce. And if relationships don’t work out couples will tend to break up before getting married. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

In today’s society fewer marriages on it’s own means little. Many couples live in virtual married arrangements, without the ceremony and certificate.

It is possible (and common) to make a long term commitment to a partner, and to a family and children, without legal marriage.

Poor reports on poorest households

Things may not always be quite as they seem at first glance.

Stuff: Poorest Kiwi households face much larger cost of living increases than big spenders

A recent jump in the cost of living hit the lowest paid Kiwis much harder than the big spenders, new figures show.

In the first three months of the year, inflation for all households jumped 1 per cent, bringing annual inflation to 2.2 per cent, the highest since 2011.

On Thursday Statistics New Zealand released the household living-costs price indexes, giving a breakdown of how price increases hit different groups.

The figures showed that the rise hit the lowest earners the hardest. Beneficiaries saw their overall costs rise by 1.4 per cent, almost three times the increase faced by the 20 per cent of households with the highest spending.

That sounds like a significant disparity for poor households. But what comes next changes the perspective somewhat.

While overall inflation rose partly because of increases in the cost of fuel and food, Statistics New Zealand said inflation was especially high for beneficiaries because a greater proportion of their income went on tobacco. Each January, the excise on tobacco products increases by 10 per cent.

So inflation went up more for poor households that used a significant amount of tobacco.

Whether tobacco taxes should keep going up is another matter.

But one of the key pieces of information about households was not revealed until well into the item.

“Higher costs for cigarettes and tobacco had a greater effect on beneficiaries,” Statistics New Zealand’s Nicola Growden said.

“About 5 per cent of their spending went up in smoke, proportionally more than most other types of households spent.”

Predominantly Maori households faced a 1.3 per cent increase in inflation – higher than average – while superannuitant households faced a 0.9 per cent increase, slightly below average.

Maori are over represented in poorer households, and also smoke much more than non-Maori.

And superannuitants are also less likely to be smokers as they don’t die as young.

Meanwhile Labour’s finance spokesperson Grant Robertson put out this on the same topic.

Cost of Living increases hit those with least the hardest

Posted by on May 04, 2017

Beneficiaries, superannuitants and people on the lowest incomes continue to bear the brunt of higher inflation, according to the latest data from Statistics NZ, says Labour Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.

So he’s also referring to the latest inflation data from Statistics New Zealand.

“Since National came to office (December 2008) inflation for those on the lowest 20 per cent of incomes has increased by 17 per cent. But for those with the highest 20 per cent of incomes, it has increased by only 10 per cent.

“The cost of core inflation items like food, fuel and rates are all soaking up an increasing chunk of the incomes of the lowest paid people. These are costs that Kiwis can’t avoid – and they are rising faster than other costs in the economy.

No mention of one of the most significant factors, tobacco use and tax.

“High housing costs, rising rents are all eclipsing the mediocre wage increases for New Zealanders. Yesterday the latest wages data showed that 67 per cent of Kiwis got a pay rise of less than inflation, which means they effectively are working harder for less.

“Rather than address these problems National doesn’t have a plan for the economy, to help boost our notoriously low productivity, nor to help Kiwi families.

“Only a Labour-led Government will help address the growing cost of living crisis in New Zealand for low income Kiwis and we’ll deliver the shared prosperity that all New Zealanders deserve,” says Grant Robertson.

Robertson either didn’t pick up on the tobacco part of the statistics, or he deliberately left it out of his post.

But the Stuff item quoted him in their article, and also managed to, eventually, highlight the impact of tobacco on poorer households.


Employment up, unemployment down

The quarterly Labour Market Statistics for the June 2016 quarter were released yesterday by Statistics New Zealand..

Under key facts, labour market at a glance.

  • Unemployment down to 5.1 percent in the June 2016 quarter.
  • Large increase in employment but partly reflects improvements to the HLFS, including better identification of self-employed people.
  • Wage inflation remains subdued.

In short unemployment is down, the number of people in employment is up, and wages are hardly moving for most people.

Unemployment down slightly

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 5.1 percent in the June 2016 quarter (from a revised 5.2 percent in the March 2016 quarter). There were 1,000 fewer people unemployed over the June quarter, down to 131,000.

In seasonally adjusted terms, there were 2,000 fewer women unemployed in the June 2016 quarter. Their unemployment rate decreased 0.3 percentage points to 5.4 percent. The unemployment rate for men decreased 0.1 percentage point, down to 4.7 percent.



The June 2016 quarter estimates suggest employment growth of 2.4 percent (58,000 people), and that the employment rate has reached 66.2 percent. However, some of the changes to the redeveloped HLFS need to be considered when interpreting this quarter’s results. Overall, the new survey appears to be estimating a higher level (or stock) of employment than the previous HLFS.


Confusion over workplace death statistics

This is a follow-up on the post Raymond Huo and one hundred deaths. 

Raymond Huo claimed “we’ve had an average of 100 deaths a year” on Red Alert. I searched to find where that number came from. I inititally found this at OSH:

Workplace fatalities 2007 – 2012

Industry 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011† 2012*
Accommodation and Food Services 1 0 1 0 0 1
Administrative and Support Services 1 0 0 0 0 0
Agriculture 15 19 10 19 15 8
Arts and Recreation Services 1 12 12 7 1 2
Construction 10 8 18 6 4 3
Education and Training 1 0 3 2 1 0
Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services 2 0 1 3 3 0
Forestry 3 4 4 4 3 5
Health Care and Social Assistance 0 1 2 1 2 0
Manufacturing 4 3 10 1 3 1
Mining and extractives 1 0 0 29 1 0
Other Services 0 1 1 0 1 0
Public Administration and Safety 0 4 2 2 1 0
Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services 0 0 0 0 1 0
Transport, Postal and Warehousing 6 2 3 3 5 0
Wholesale Trade 0 0 1 0 0 0
Total 45 54 68 77 41 20

† 2011 figures are provisional and subject to change.

* 2012 figures are as at 8 August 2012. These figures are provisional and subject to change.

The statistics show the number of fatalities, notified to the Department of Labour under the Health and Safety in Employment (HSE) Act 1992. The statistics do not include: fatalities in the maritime or aviation sectors or due to work-related crashes on the road as these are investigated by Maritime New Zealand, the Civil Aviation Authority and the NZ Police respectively. Nor do they include fatalities from long latency diseases caused by exposure to hazardous substances.


As this is significantly different to Huo’s claim I asked him where he got his number from. He referred me to an NZ Herald article: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10844507

I asked NZH where they got their figure from but they haven’t responded.

I’ve searched some more and found a reference in an ODT editorial – Unacceptable and unsustainable – which said:

Last week, a public meeting was hosted in Dunedin by members of the Government-appointed Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety which is examining the issue, seeking public feedback nationwide, and developing recommendations for the Government to consider next year to achieve its goal of a 25% reduction in workplace deaths and serious injuries by 2020.

Official figures show each year in New Zealand an average of 100 people die from work-related accidents and an average of 380 receive serious non-fatal work-related injuries.

I checked the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety website which linked to a consultation document :

New Zealand’s workplace health and safety outcomes are poor,
particularly by comparison to other countries

15. Statistics New Zealand reports annually on New Zealand’s work related injury and fatality rates through the fatal and non-fatal Serious Injury Outcome Indicators (SIOI).
16. The most recent SIOI figures available for work related injuries (2008—2010) show that New Zealand has:
•     102 fatalities per annum at a rate of 4.1 per 100,000 workers
•     369 non-fatal serious injuries at a rate of 16.0 per 100,000 workers

Searching on Serious Injury Outcome Indicators at Statistics New Zealand I found an Injuries – Injury Information Portal which had links to PDF and spreadsheet data.

1994 ..
1995 80.0
1996 80.7
1997 70.3
1998 62.0
1999 52.7
2000 52.3
2001 65.0
2002 81.0
2003 91.0
2004 85.7
2005 90.0
2006 88.3
2007 87.3
2008 93.0
2009 P 102.3
2010 ..

P provisional
.. figure not available
Source: ACC entitlement claims; Statistics New Zealand

This shows a peak in 2009 of 102.3 (I’m not sure how you can get fractions of deaths) and no other years are more than 100 so ‘102 deaths per annum’ is incorrect, and it certainly isn’t an average of 100 deaths per year (over 15 years it’s 78.8).

And there’s further confusion. I looked up ACC’s website and on Frequently requested facts and stats they say:

Work injuries

In 2007/08 119 people were killed…

Spreadsheet link: Fatal work-related claims by industry (XLS 14K)
(showing that it relates to the period 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008)

So that gives us three quite different totals for one year:

  • 54 (OSH)
  • 93 (Statistics New Zealand who cite ACC as a source)
  • 119 (ACC website “facts”)

I didn’t find any statistics that support “an average of 100 deaths per year”.

Workplace accidents and especially workplace deaths are a major concern. Contradictory statistics are also a concern, this makes it very difficult to know how bad things are and to measure trends.