New Zealand: Unemployment rises moderately ahead of Covid-19 lockdown in Q1
May 6, 2020
The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate rose to 4.2% in Q1 from 4.0% in the previous quarter. The reading was slightly below market expectations of a 4.3% unemployment rate, and reflected both a limited increase in the number of unemployed people and a rise in the labor force participation rate, both contributing to the uptick in the unemployment rate. Although Q1’s figures paint an overall positive picture, Q2 is projected to be an especially dire period for the labor market due to lockdown measures.
Meanwhile, the underutilization rate—which includes both unemployment and underemployment—rose from 10.0% in Q4 to 10.4% in Q1, signaling some increase in the labor market’s untapped capacity. Meanwhile, private sector wages rose 2.5% in Q1 on a year-on-year basis, marginally above Q4’s 2.4% upturn.