Extraordinary workforce lift over past year

A little followed dataset was released recently – estimates of New Zealand’s working age population to June 2023. In the past 6 months, New Zealand’s working age population increased by an extraordinary 59,100 people. In percentage terms, there are now 1.4% more people of working age in the country than at Christmas. This data highlights that the current migration boom is being fueled by people who are here to work!

More workers driving jobs growth

This sharp increase in the workforce is continuing to drive up job numbers recorded in payday payroll tax filings. Data to April showed that employment expanded by 0.6% (seasonally adjusted)! That is rapid growth for the month – annualised that would equate to more than 7% of additional filled jobs across a 12 month period. It’s also not a flash in the pan result, with job numbers measured through payday payroll tax filings showing strong growth over the past 4 months.

The key parts to the jobs growth engine at present are both services (eg. tourism and hospitality) as well as goods producing industries. With the migration tap firmly on, businesses are finding the workers they need to make a dent in unfilled vacancies.

Looking through the regional disaggregations shows some pretty interesting results – for example little old Otago has created as many jobs as the entire Wellington Region over the past year!

Job numbers are increasing among all demographics, especially people in their peak working years which correspond with the ongoing migration boom.

Youth employment of teenagers is also rising fast – the allure of high wages to buy that new phone or surprisingly late model car are mighty tempting relative to doing a wee bit more homework!

There is also some pretty clear evidence of the cost of living squeeze pushing certain demographics into work. Employment among over 65s is rising rapidly as retirees seek to top up superannuation, while female employment is growing faster than male employment as more households need second incomes to support higher mortgage repayments