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New Zealand unemployment rate hits record 5.3 pct due to COVID-19


Photo: Jeremy Bales/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The number of unemployed people rose by a record of 37,000 to reach 151,000 in the September 2020 quarter, as the impact of COVID-19 hit the labor market, New Zealand’s statistics department Stats NZ said on Wednesday.

In the September 2020 quarter, there were 37,000 more unemployed people, an increase of 32.5 percent since the June 2020 quarter, Stats NZ said.

There were 22,000 fewer employed people this quarter than in the June 2020 quarter, with the unemployment rate hitting 5.3 percent due to COVID-19. The underutilization rate rose to 13.2 percent, it said.

This 37,000 rise is the largest quarterly rise in unemployment since the series began in 1986, statistics showed.
The next largest rise in a single quarter was recorded in the June 2009 quarter during the global financial crisis, when the number of unemployed people rose by 18,000, Stats NZ said.

Women have fared worse than men across key labor market measures since COVID-19 and alert level measures began impacting New Zealand’s labor market, Stats NZ said.

“Unemployment rates for men and women rose by similar amounts over the quarter, up 1.2 and 1.3 percentage points, respectively, but looking at quarterly changes right now only tells part of the story,” labor market manager Andrew Neal said.

“The March 2020 quarter captured New Zealand’s labor market prior to the impact of COVID-19. Changes between then and the September 2020 quarter show that while both sexes have been negatively impacted, women have been worse affected.”

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