By Lucy Craymer
WELLINGTON, New Zealand--Unemployment in New Zealand fell to its lowest level in over five years in the second quarter, although participation in the market came off the high seen in the previous quarter.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.6% in the three months ended June 30, Statistics New Zealand's Household Labour Force Survey showed Wednesday. The figure was below the 5.8% expected in a Wall Street Journal poll of 14 economists.
However, the participation rate fell to 68.9% from 69.3% in the first quarter. Economists had expected the rate to be unchanged.
"We continue to see more people move into employment and although the participation rate has dropped from a peak last quarter, it is still atan historically high level," Diane Ramsay, labor market and households statistics manager, said.
Seasonally adjusted employment rose 0.4% on the quarter, against expectations for a 0.7% rise, and was up 3.7% on the year compared to expectations for a 4.0% rise.
The data confirm unemployment is no longer a key concern for the country as economic growth in Auckland--the country's largest city--coupled with the rebuild of Christchurch provide new employment opportunities. However, slower-than-expected growth in employment may raise concerns about how growth in the economy is tracking.
The Household Labour Force Survey has shown significant volatility in recent quarters, driving the government, market commentators and investors to look at both the Labour Cost Index Survey and the Quarterly Employment Survey together when assessing the situation.
The Labour Cost Index showed private-sector wages rose 0.6% on the quarter and were up 1.8% on year, Statistics New Zealand said.
Write to Lucy Craymer at Lucy.Craymer@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 05, 2014 19:45 ET (23:45 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2014 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.