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Mixed picture in labour force data



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MEDIA RELEASE

The January Labour Force data show a mixed picture.

The trend data, which cover the underlying movements in the data, show a continuation of improvement.

There has been a monthly improvement in employment of 0.2% which is an annualised movement of around 2Vi%. The unemployment rate has also fallen from 8.2% to 8.1%. This would represent a fairly robust rate of growth.

The seasonally adjusted data however show a more subdued picture with a negligible increase in employment of 2,400 over the month. It is also interesting that the unemployment rate has risen from 8.1% to 8.2%, exactly the reverse of the trend data.

Given the strong rates of employment growth since April, that there has been any improvement at all in the seasonally adjusted level of employment may itself be a sign that the labour market remains relatively buoyant.

On the other hand, the slowing may be the first sign that employment conditions are beginning to soften due to the problems in the Asian economies.

The volatility in the seasonally adjusted data make it difficult to reach any firm conclusion at this stage. Only further data in coming months will be able to provide clarity. In the meantime a cautious approach to economic policy would be in order.

Immediate 12 February 1998

Mixed Picture in Labour Force Data

Statement by Mark F , hief Executive

For further comment, please contact: Mr Mark Paterson 02 6273 2311 (B/H) Chief Executive 016 280 664 (pager)

Dr Steven Kates 02 6273 2311 (B/H) Chief Economist 02 6295 0827 (A/H)

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