NEW Zealand’s unemployment rate rose more than expected in the second quarter while the participation rate increased, with little evidence of wage inflation.
The unemployment rate increased to 6.4 per cent in the three months ended June 30, higher than the 6.3 per cent expected by economists in a Reuters poll and up from 6.2 per cent in the first quarter, Statistics New Zealand says.
An additional 5000 people were available for work and looking for work, boosting the unemployment number, and the participation rate increased 0.1 percentage point to 68 per cent.
The labour market is improving, with employment growing slowly and unemployment down from a year ago, Statistics NZ says.
The second quarter unemployment rate is below the 6.9 per cent average for 2012, and the lowest in its trend series since June 2009.
New Zealand’s 6.4 per cent unemployment rate ranks the nation 12th lowest of OECD countries.
Canterbury, which is being rebuilt following a series of earthquakes, continued to lead employment growth, with the number of people employed up 5.5 per cent over the year and the unemployment rate dropping to 4.4 per cent from 6.5 per cent in the June 2012 quarter.
Construction, retail, accommodation and food services led the Canterbury increase.
Wage pressures remain subdued.
Wage inflation, as measured by the labour cost index, eased to 1.7 per cent in the second quarter, down from two per cent this time last year and below the 1.8 per cent rate economists had expected.
Wage rates for just over half of the positions surveyed increased during the year. Of those that rose, the average increase is the lowest since the December 2000 quarter at 3.4 per cent.