2 Nov 2009

Data expected to show labour market still struggling

7:24 am on 2 November 2009

Data out this week is expected to show that the labour market is still struggling, despite signs the New Zealand economy may be on the mend.

On Tuesday, the labour cost index and quarterly employment survey will be published and both are likely to show another quarter of weak wage growth.

On Thursday, economists are predicting that the household labour force survey will show the unemployment rate has risen by 0.5% to 6.5%.

Head of research at BNZ Stephen Toplis says unemployment will continue to rise for at least the next 12 months.

Mr Toplis says labour markets tend to lag economic cycles, so about 12 months after the economy turns you would expect the labour market to peak.

He says the BNZ is forecasting an unemployment peak of about 7.5%, which is at the more pessimistic end of expectations, but even optimists expect it to peak around 7%.

Mr Toplis says wage growth is falling away quite rapidly because it is easier to find staff. He believes the number of paid hours worked is also likely to drop.