2013 there has been a major bounce-back to increase employed by over 105,000 compared with the previous year when there was a net loss of 32,000 employed.
Employment increase for Survey of Households unbelievably large
In fact the employment increase of 105,900 people is nearly off the scale. The closest to this since the HLFS began in 1986 was in year to December 2004, when an additional 90,700 were employed.
However the increase in employment recorded in the Survey was largely across the board, which tends to lend credibility. The largest increases were in retail (19,000), associated with private services like hairdressing etc (9,000). Construction increased by 15,000; processing and manufacturing by 14,000; and professional and technical services increased by 13,000 to support these. There were also increases in social services – health by 16,000 and education and training by 10,000.
You will want to know the occupations that have increased.
The occupation increasing most was Cleaners and Laundry Workers – up 16,000 jobs.
There are a lot of labourers on farms, in forests and in food processing plants also.
So the increase by 105,900 people is a very large increase in demand for labour.
The increase in firms’ filled jobs was much fewer
This is much higher than the increase of 32,000 filled jobs as measured in the Quarterly Employment Survey of firms. This has been sitting steady at that level for calendar 2012 and 2013, and has been close to that since an increase by 30,200 in calendar 2011.
The addition of 105,900 to the employed, balanced by reduction of 15,000 in the unemployed, gave another record increase in the labour force by over 90,000. The December 2004 number was an increase in the labour force by 70,000.
Where the newly-employed came from
The first 15,000 came from a reduction in the unemployed. The remaining 90,000 came from an increase in the labour force.
So where did that 90,000 come from?
Fewer people at home with the kids
The first 48,000 came from a reduction in people in New Zealand who in December 2012 were ‘Not in the Labour Force’. The number studying and retired did not change much, but the large drop was in those ‘At Home Looking after Children’. This number reduced by 26,500 from 182,000 to 156,000. There were reasonably significant drops in the numbers classified ‘Other’ and ‘Not Specified’, which can be quite volatile.
The population 15 and over increased
The rest of the 90,000 more people in the labour force came from an increase in the Working Age Population (WAP), namely the population aged 15 and over. The WAP increased by 43,200, coming from the usual Natural Increase (births less deaths) by about 30,000 in the existing population and Net Inward Migration of about 12,000 working aged out of the total net migration of 22,000 in the year to December 2013.
The migration swing was from fewer Kiwi families leaving
In the year to December 2013 there were about 14,000 fewer Kiwis left permanently than in the previous year. As many of those leaving had been families, the Working Age element was relatively low. There was also an increase in inward migrants by about 8,000, bring up the net flow to 22,000.
Overall picture from Household Survey
The overall picture from the HLFS is of strong growth in the number of people who were employed in December 2013.
Given the large swings in the HLFS numbers recently compared with the generally steady growth in numbers of filled jobs in the QES, it would be wise to assess the position of broad, steady growth rather than the unbridled boom the single-quarter HLFS numbers suggest.
Further net inward migration from fewer people leaving, and more people in the current population getting into the labour force bode well for strengthening the economy.