By James Glynn

New Zealand's jobless rate fell to its lowest level in almost eight years in the September quarter, Statistics New Zealand said Wednesday.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.9% in the three months to the end of September, compared with a revised 5.0% in the previous quarter, the Household Labor Force Survey showed. The reading was below a median forecast of 5.1% unemployment in a Wall Street Journal survey of economists.

The labor force participation rate was 70.1% versus 69.7% in the previous quarter. Economists had expected a participation rate of 69.7%.

The number of people employed in New Zealand was up 35,000, or 1.4 percent, in the September 2016 quarter, from the previousthree months.

The latest data comprise the second set of figures to come out since the survey was revamped earlier in the year.

"This strong growth in employment, coupled with fewer unemployed people, pushed the unemployment rate below 5.0 percent for the first time in nearly eight years," labour and income statistics manager Mark Gordon said.

Seasonally adjusted employment rose 1.4% on quarter compared with an expected increase of 0.5% and was up 6.1% from a year earlier compared with an expected increase of 5.4%.

The Labor Cost Index showed private-sector wages rose 0.4% on quarter and were up 1.6% from the previous year.

Economists say improvements to the way the labor data is collected should make the survey a better gauge of the state of the labor market, but they also say figures from before the June quarter are no longer comparable with data since then.

New Zealand's agriculture-rich economy is growing strongly supportedby strong migration flows, solid commodity prices and record low interest rates. Business confidence is also strong while home owners are enjoying wealth gains through soaring property prices.

Still, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand appears intent on cutting interest rates further this month to combat stubbornly low inflation and weaken the New Zealand dollar.

Write to James Glynn at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 01, 2016 18:20 ET (22:20 GMT)

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