Unemployment rate

The data in this indicator is no longer being updated.

Stats NZ is developing well-being indicators, Indicators Aotearoa New Zealand - Ngā Tūtohu Aotearoa, to track New Zealand’s progress. As the well-being indicators have similar aims to the NZ Progress Indicators and NZ Social Indicators, we are reviewing the future of these existing indicators.

Please contact us at info@stats.govt.nz if you have any questions.


Negative change

Annual unemployment rate has increased from 1987

  • Image, unemployment rate
    • The unemployment rate peaked at 10.7 percent in 1992, at 7.7 percent in 1998, and fell to a low of 3.7 percent in 2007.
    • As economic growth declined throughout 2008 and the first half of 2009, unemployment rose. The annual rate in 2008 was 4.2 percent, rising to 6.9 percent in 2012 and again falling to 5.8 percent in 2015.
    • Because there are always new people entering the labour force and others changing jobs, there is always some level of unemployment. Therefore, the unemployment rate is not expected to ever fall to zero. 


    Note: This graph is interactive. Hover over the data points to see the exact values.

    View source data

    The source data for this indicator is available from Statistics NZ's Household Labour Force Survey statistics. To view these go to Infoshare and enter this table reference in the search box: HLF035AA.

    Definition and measure

    As well as providing income, employment has a positive impact on individual satisfaction and happiness. It also increases participation in society and the productive capacity of the economy. Unemployment increases the risk of poverty and consequent social exclusion.

    The unemployment rate is the number of people unemployed expressed as a percentage of the labour force. The labour force consists of all individuals of the working-age population who are either employed or unemployed. Unemployment is defined as being without paid work, where a person was available for and actively seeking work.

    Previous publications

    Key findings on New Zealand's progress using a sustainable development approach: 2010
    Measuring New Zealand's progress using a sustainable development approach: 2008
    Key findings on New Zealand's progress using a sustainable development approach: 2008

    Page updated March 2016

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