Confusing signals from New Zealand employment data

You may have heard Stephen Topliss of the BNZ in the media this morning talking about the inconsistent employment data that was recently published. In 2012 30,00 people lost their jobs and there was drop in the number of participants in the labour force by 48,000 as people gave up looking for work – see diagram below for Composition of Labour Force. There are some conflicting pieces of data:

1. The unemployment rate fell from 7.3% to 6.9% over the last quarter but this most probably is due to the fact that the participation rate has fallen.
2. The number of people employed fell by 1.4% for 2012 but the Quarterly Employment Survey suggests that employment grew by around 1.5% over the last year.
3. Business intentions and actions are inconsistent – survey indicate that they expect to hire more labour but ultimately they don’t
4. In surveys consumer confidence is high with the backdrop of so many losing their jobs
5. Housing market usually reflects the state of the labour market – today employment market poor

It begs the question how accurate is the employment data. Lies, damn lies and statistics.

Composition of Labour Force in New Zealand January 2012
NZ Labour Market

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