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Labour market situation

Get a snapshot of labour market trends in New Zealand in the year to December 2015.

Unemployment rate down to 5.3%

In the year to December 2015:

  • the unemployment rate fell to 5.3% – the lowest since March 2009
  • 10,000 fewer people were unemployed than in the preceding year
  • unemployment rates were lowest in Canterbury (3.9%), and in Southland and Taranaki (both 4.1%)
  • employment rose by 1.3% – an increase of 31,000 people.

Construction top industry for growth in employment

Tradespeople working on scaffolding attached to a high-rise building

Of all industries, construction had strongest growth in the year to December 2015

In the year to December 2015:

  • construction had the strongest growth in numbers of people employed
  • most employment growth in construction was in Auckland, followed by Canterbury and the Bay of Plenty
  • most of the additional construction workers were technicians and tradespeople.

Auckland experienced the most growth

In the year to December 2015, about three-quarters of all employment growth came from Auckland (23,100 people).

Outlook: employment growth expected to continue

According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s outlook to 2019:

  • employment is forecast to continue growing at an average of 2.1% a year
  • the unemployment rate is expected to rise to 6% by March 2017, and then fall to 5% by March 2019
  • the strongest employment growth is expected in construction and related industries, with hospitality and tourism, wholesale and retail trade, and business services also growing
  • employment growth rates are expected to be highest in Marlborough, West Coast and Otago, with the largest employment increases in Auckland and Canterbury
  • highly skilled jobs are expected to increase from 42% to 43% of all jobs and lower skilled jobs are expected to fall from 46% to 45%.


  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Quarterly Labour Market Scorecard – February 2016', March 2016, (
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Short-term Employment Forecasts: 2016-2019', March 2016, (
  • Statistics New Zealand, 'Labour Market Statistics: December 2015 Quarter', February 2016, (

Updated 17 May 2016