What happened in the HLFS – let me make some guesses.
So I’m guessing that quarterly employment declined this quarter – and pretty sharply, following last quarters large increase. This series is truly jumpy as hell – did the participation rate fall as well 😛
And let me guess, all the banks are saying that the fall in the participation rate is due to the “discouraged work effect” – truly they make me giggle 😀
Still, in all seriousness the increase in the unemployment rate is a true indication of where things are going – so what was it, how far over 4% has unemployment gone?
This is the series I would keep an eye on (although with annual average growth in employment – it is a slow moving indicator but less jumpy). If the unemployment rate has jumped by over half a percent (which I now expect) then this is definite sign that the labour market is softening.
Keep in mind though that the “natural” unemployment rate in NZ is 5% – as long as we are below that the labour market is still tight. I wonder how long till we cross it – March?
Note: If the unemployment rate does not rise (or falls) this is a VERY strong result – implying that our economy was on a strongish footing going into the recent credit crisis.