New Zealand’s unemployment rate held steady in the first quarter, bucking expectations for a decline to 5.5%. It remains at the equal-highest level seen since Q1 2014.
Just as the headline number underwhelmed so too did employment growth, rising just 0.7% against expectations for an increase of 0.8%, leaving the annual rate of change at 3.2%. Tripling that increase, the number of unemployed persons jumped by 2.1%. Despite the sharp increase the number still sits 0.6% below the levels of a year earlier.
Keeping with the theme of the employment report the information on labour costs also underwhelmed with quarterly growth of 0.3% reported. While up for nine consecutive quarters, the figure was below the 0.5% level of Q4 2014 and expectations for a further increase of 0.4% and marked the slowest pace of growth since Q4 2012. Understandably, with the quarterly reading undershooting, the annual increase slowed to 1.7% from 1.8% seen previously.
The market reaction to the data has been stark. Here’s the New Zealand-US Dollar 5-minute chart following the release.
And the Australian Dollar-New Zealand Dollar cross.