The Working Age Population, often referred to as the WAP, is the population aged 15 years and over.  The labour force consists of people from the WAP who are ready and available to work.

Labour force participation shows the share of people 15 years and over (the WAP) who are participating in the labour force and are either employed full-time, part-time, or are unemployed.

People that are in the WAP but not in the labour force could be studying, retired, or at home engaged in non-paid activities such as caring for family members.  This is different from being unemployed.  People who are unemployed are defined as looking for work, and are able to start work within four weeks.

BERL can work with you to identify the data and information you need to understand your local labour market, and how that compares to what is happening in your region or nationally.  We can provide economic analysis and commentary on the latest surveys, and add to your evidence base through the use of data and information from our longitudinal databases and economic modelling tools.  We can assist you to better understand and use demographic and migration data, and place these trends in a global context.

If you wish to find out more, we are more than happy to talk to you.

Contact us


Plunging unemployment rate – who has benefitted?

Sunday November 11, 2018 Mark Cox
unemployment table

The latest results from the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) indicate that the total number of people employed in New Zealand increased by 74,000, or 2.8%, between September 2017 and September 2018.  This looks a very good result, although the increase should be compared to an increase of 102,000 in the year to September 2017, and an increase of 143,000 in the year to September 2016.

Net immigration now slowing strongly and will be 30,000 by end of 2019

Thursday September 06, 2018 Kel Sanderson
migration net 2008 2019

The net inflow of migrants is well past its peak of about 72,000 people a year. For calendar 2019 it is forecast to be down to 30,000 people. Excluding migration, New Zealand population has usually increased by 30,000 a year due to births less deaths. This 30,000 plus the 30,000 in 2019 from migration means our services will still be stretched.

New migration measures

Thursday August 30, 2018 Hugh Dixon
migration graph

With New Zealand Customs announcement of the removal of departure cards from November 2018, there will be a focus on the new migration measures produced by Statistics New Zealand that will replace the current measure. The current migration measure is based on the information from travellers on their intended length of stay in New Zealand recorded on the cards. To be a permanent migrant into New Zealand you need to intend to stay for at least 12 months, otherwise you are defined as a short-term visitor to New Zealand.

Fascinating facts in dusty old tomes

Thursday August 23, 2018 Mark Cox
berl employment

Now that virtually all the data and information we need can be sourced online, most of us at BERL hardly use books for our work. But the recent refurbishment of the BERL offices highlighted the fact that we still have a treasure trove of printed works in our possession. Many of our books were disposed of, or stored away, but some of the more attractive and interesting volumes have been kept on display.

Our population is approaching 5 million.

Wednesday August 15, 2018 Hillmare Schulze
graph berl chart4

The estimated resident population of New Zealand reached 4,885,300 end of June 2018, according to StatsNZ. Population change in New Zealand is calculated based on natural increase (births minus deaths) and net migration (international migrant arrivals minus departures).

Labour market trends – don’t worry (yet)

Tuesday July 31, 2018
graph 02 08 18 3

Recent business surveys in New Zealand have pointed to a significant decline in confidence. For example, the results from the ANZ Business Outlook showed that the proportion of respondents expecting an improvement in general business conditions in the year ahead dropped to a net negative 45% in July 2018, compared to a net positive 20% a year earlier.

New Zealand less appealing to non-citizens

Wednesday July 25, 2018 Mark Cox
graph 26 07 18 2

In the year to June 2018, net migration to New Zealand was 65,000 . This was significantly lower than the peak level of just over 72,300 in the middle of 2017, but it was still very high by historical standards. In fact, the net migration of 65,000 added approximately 1.3 percent to the country’s population.

ACC is a national treasure

Tuesday July 24, 2018 Merewyn Groom
ACC pic

A few weeks ago I came off my mountain bike. I was having a brilliant afternoon with a couple of good friends. Winter riding is slipping in the mud, flying through lush native forest and encouraging each other down technical descents. “Nek minute” my bike was gone from underneath me, I flew through the air and landed on my shoulder, crunch.

4 million, 5 million, 6 million ….?

Monday August 21, 2017 Mark Cox
graph 2

Shortly after I arrived in the country early in 2003, Statistics New Zealand announced that the resident population had reached 4 million. And, who knows, I might actually have been number 4,000,000.

Net permanent migration over 70,000 for 2016

Thursday February 16, 2017 Hugh Dixon

Net migration for New Zealand reached 70,600 in the year to December 2016. The net inward migration seen in 2016 comes from 127,300 arrivals, and 56,700 departures.  As shown in the figure to the right, the last time New Zealand had annual outward migration was in the year to December 2012 when 1,200 more people left than arrived.

Why has unemployment hardly changed, when employment has jumped?

Monday February 13, 2017 Mark Cox

According to Statistics New Zealand’s Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS), the number of people in New Zealand who are employed has increased by 278,000 during the past five years (December 2011 to December 2016).  But, curiously, during the same period, the number of people who are unemployed has decreased by only 5,000.  This article briefly examines why such a large increase in the former has been matched by such a small decrease in the latter.

More migration more residents?

Tuesday May 24, 2016 Julian Williams

Net migration swelled New Zealand’s population by a record 67,619 in the 2016 March year. Quite a change from the 2012 March year, which recorded an annual net migration loss of 3,383. What happened?

Knocking off early

Thursday May 19, 2016 Mark Cox

Mr Cox a senior economist at Business and Economic Research Ltd (Berl) thinks some things need to change, but that the labour market will find its own way forward and people would reject Mr Bregman's vision as a bridge too far.

Job market growing steadily

Thursday May 05, 2016 Julian Williams

Compared to the same quarter a year earlier, total employment in New Zealand in the March 2016 quarter was 48,100, or 2.0% higher. However, the pattern of change, according to industry and occupation, was very mixed1.

The fizz has gone out of job market

Thursday February 18, 2016 Kel Sanderson

Employment annual growth has fallen from the dizzy heights of 60,000 to 80,000 per annum we had in 2013 and 2014. The last two quarters’ data sees employment growth flattening at about 33,000 per year.

Has migration reached its peak?

Tuesday July 28, 2015 Hugh Dixon

On 21st July 2015, Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) released data on the international migration for the year to June 2015. New Zealand net migration reached a new peak of 58,259 for the year to June 2015. Although, this new peak is just 437 people higher (or an increase of 0.8 percent) than the previous peak of 57,822, reached in the year to May 2015.

How net migration affects New Zealand

Tuesday November 25, 2014 Hugh Dixon

In November 2014, Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) has released data on the international migration for the year to October 2014, and for the first time ever net migration to New Zealand has reached 47,684 for the year to October 2014.

Good news in the detail of migration numbers

Tuesday October 28, 2014 Kel Sanderson

The overall picture of net permanent and long-term migration is playing out very much as we have commented for some time. The main driver of the wide cyclical fluctuations in the past has been changes in the numbers of New Zealand residents leaving, particularly for Australia. Two years ago the outflow to Australia was 56,000. This outflow has dropped and is quite flat at about 30,000 a year.

Labour market results for the September quarter are expected to be mixed

Friday November 01, 2013 Shaun Twaddle

We started the second half of 2013 with the economy appearing to have some momentum behind it. Since then however, consumer and business confidence has dipped a little. Nevertheless, overall conditions remain positive. Despite these positive noises, the labour market conditions remain somewhat erratic and September quarter labour market results, released on 6 November, are unlikely to be as positive as many are hoping.

Employment and earnings data for young graduates will result in more informed decisions

Friday November 01, 2013 Shaun Twaddle

Are the days of hordes of young people enrolling in qualifications that employers don’t want and ending up unemployed numbered? Government agencies and tertiary education organisations are being pushed to provide employment and income information for graduates of tertiary education. This information was previously unreported or confined to technical research papers and the push for it to be made available to the public is laudable for a variety of reasons.

New Zealand’s net migration up in September 2013

Thursday October 24, 2013 Hugh Dixon

15,790 more people arrived in New Zealand than left, for the year ending September 2013. According to Statistics New Zealand’s September 2013 international travel and migration data, New Zealand is seeing continued gains in net permanent migration, after recovering from negative net migration in 2011 and 2012.

Kiwis continue fickle affair with Australia

Wednesday May 01, 2013 Kel Sanderson

Kiwis migrating to Australia have doubled in the last 10 years from 25,000 in 2003, to over 51,000 in the year to March 2013. The love affair with Australia is fickle, and the slightest cloud on the Australian economic horizon causes the number trekking over to thin out.

Migration inflow turns positive

Monday March 04, 2013

New Zealand registered a small, yet positive, net migration inflow for the year to January 2013. New Zealand attracted 85,659 people for permanent and long -term migration. This compared with 85,647 departures for the year, which are 1,077 people less than a year earlier.

Unemployment drops as people give up

Monday February 18, 2013 Kel Sanderson

The unemployment in December quarter was 160,000, which is 10,000 less than it was in September quarter. The reason it dropped is because the number who gave up looking for a job increased by 21,000 people.

Bleak jobless numbers call for change of course

Thursday November 08, 2012 Dr Ganesh Nana

Despite our forecast being almost spot on, it gives us not pleasure whatsoever to see the official unemployment rate rise to 7.3%. Actual official unemployment totalled 170,000 in September, up from 151,200 this time last year.

Anaemic economy: 173,000 to Oz in four years not enough!

Friday August 10, 2012 Kel Sanderson

Employment growth continues to fall. It dropped from 43,000 a year ago to just 12,000 in the 12 months to June 2012. That 12,000 increase is nowhere near enough to employ the increase in the number of people who want to work. Even this meagre employment increase could well become negative in the next six months if the trend over the last year continues.