Labour market (M9)

This data summarises employment and wage statistics in New Zealand.
 Special note: QES series updated
03 November 2021 03:00 p.m.
Next release
02 February 2022 03:00 p.m.
Statistics New Zealand
Data files
Unemployment rate Labour force Average hourly earnings
Date (% s.a.) Employed (000s s.a.) Employed (y/y%) Unemployed (000s s.a.) Unemployed (y/y%) ($) (y/y%)
Previous years:
Sep 2019 4.2 2,704 1.0 118 4.6 32.77 3.3
Sep 2020 5.3 2,714 0.4 151 28.6 34.11 4.1
Dec 2020 4.8 2,732 0.6 139 21.8 34.36 4.2
Mar 2021 4.6 2,747 0.2 133 10.3 34.56 3.9
Jun 2021 4.0 2,775 1.6 116 -0.5 34.80 4.0
Sep 2021 3.4 2,830 4.3 98 -35.1 35.30 3.5

The data: coverage, periodicity, and timeliness

Coverage characteristics

Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS)

The HLFS provides New Zealand's official employment and unemployment statistics. The target population is the civilian, usually resident, non-institutionalised population aged 15 years and over.

The labour force category (employed, unemployed, not in the labour force) to which a person is assigned depends on their actual activity during a survey reference week.

Quarterly Employment Survey (QES)

The QES provides statistics on average hourly earnings. The target population is economically significant enterprises in surveyed industries.

QES data relates to a single reference week, which is the week ending on, or immediately before, the 20th of the middle month of the quarter.

Labour Cost Index (LCI)

The Labour Cost Index (LCI) measures changes in salary and wage rates for a fixed quantity and quality of labour input. Service increments, merit promotions, and increases (or decreases) relating to performance of the individual employee are not included in the index.

The LCI covers jobs filled by paid employees in all occupations and in all industries except private households employing staff.




The HLFS, QES and LCI are published within six weeks after the end of the reference quarter.

Access by the public

Statistics release calendar

The Statistics Release Calendar provides a long-term plan of scheduled releases. It is updated and released on the first working day of the month.

View the Statistics Release Calendar.


Dissemination of terms and conditions under which official statistics are produced, including confidentiality of individual responses

The data has been reproduced with the permission of Statistics New Zealand.

Provision of information about revisions and advance notice of major changes in methodology

Revisions are generally published when a table is next due to be updated and released. New or revised data is in bold font.


Dissemination of documentation on methodology and sources used in preparing statistics

Data is sourced from Statistics New Zealand.

Household labour force survey (HLFS)

Unemployment rate

The number of unemployed people expressed as a percentage of the labour force.


People in the working-age population who, during the reference week, did one of the following:

  • worked for one hour or more for pay or profit in the context of an employee/employer relationship or self-employment
  • worked without pay for one hour or more in work which contributed directly to the operation of a farm, business, or professional practice owned or operated by a relative
  • had a job but were not at work due to: own illness or injury, personal or family responsibilities, bad weather or mechanical breakdown, direct involvement in an industrial dispute, or leave or holiday.


All people in the working-age population who during the reference week were without a paid job, available for work, and had either actively sought work in the past four weeks ending with the reference week, or had a new job to start within the next four weeks.

Not in the labour force

Any person in the working-age population who is neither employed nor unemployed. For example, this residual category includes people who:

  • are retired
  • have personal or family responsibilities such as unpaid housework and childcare
  • attend educational institutions
  • are permanently unable to work due to physical or mental disabilities
  • were temporarily unavailable for work in the survey reference week.
  • are not actively seeking work.

Working-age population

The usually resident, non-institutionalised, civilian population of New Zealand aged 15 years and over.

Labour force participation rate

The total labour force expressed as a percentage of the working-age population

Labour cost index (LCI)

The LCI measures changes in salary and wage rates for a fixed quantity and quality of labour input.

Service increments, merit promotions, and increases (or decreases) relating to performance of the individual employee are not shown in the index.

The salary and wage rates component of the LCI measures movements in base salary and ordinary time wage rates, and overtime wage rates.

The LCI has an index reference period of the June 2009 quarter (=1000).

Quarterly employment survey (QES)

Average hourly earnings

Total ordinary and overtime pay for the reference week divided by the total paid hours recorded for the week.

Changes in average hourly earnings can mean a pay rise OR an increase or decrease in the number of hours worked in a higher or lower paying industry.

QES series updated

4 August 2021

Changes to the quarterly employment survey (QES) from the March 2021 quarter resulted in some series published in the M9 table being discontinued. These series have now been replaced with the new equivalent series published by Stats NZ. For more information see Redesign of the quarterly employment survey.

Symbols and conventions for summary table

0 Zero or value rounded to zero
- Not applicable
.. Not available
bold Revised/new
italics Provisional
light red background Historical

General notes

  • Individual figures may not sum to the totals due to rounding
  • Percentage changes are calculated on unrounded numbers
  • You are free to copy, distribute and adapt these statistics subject to the conditions listed on our copyright page.