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Unemployment rate

Why we monitor unemployment rate

Waikato Regional Counicl monitors the region’s unemployment rate in order to:

  • assess areas of economic or social hardship
  • determine where under-utilised labour resources exist
  • help explain why some areas in the region are reducing in population, leaving under-utilised services and resources.

Unemployment is an indicator of social exclusion. People who feel socially excluded from the society they live in are less likely to hold environmentally friendly attitudes and less likely to participate in democratic processes.

Areas with high unemployment often have decreasing populations. When populations decrease, existing infrastructure services, such as education or healthcare, become under-used. The cost of maintaining these services is then spread across fewer and fewer people, making the services uneconomic. As less services are available, job opportunities in an area will decrease.

By identifying areas of unemployment, Waikato Regional Council can evaluate how it can support people in these areas so they can afford to stay in them. The Heartlands Project is an across-government initiative which improves access to government services for people in provincial rural New Zealand.

Unemployment may also indicate a lack of appropriate skills and expertise. This can then be addressed by providing access to suitable training and education.

High unemployment rates are likely to push people to leave an area in order to look for work. In areas of high unemployment, unsustainable economic development for the sole purpose of creating as many jobs as possible may become more important than sustainable development that both protects the environment and provides employment.

Areas with low unemployment rates tend to attract people wanting to live in them. Although this can be positive for an area, it can put pressure on an area’s infrastructure and housing needs.

What's happening?

As at 31 March 2019, 3.8% of people in the Waikato region reported that they were unemployed, the below the national average of 4.2%. This is the lowest March unemployment rate ever recorded since the current series began in 1991.

In the past 20 years the unemployment rate in the Waikato region has ranged from a low of 2.8% (December 2007) and a high of 12.2% (March 1992). Between 1991 and 2007, unemployment rates for both the Waikato region and New Zealand decreased. After the Global Financial Crisis, unemployment increased again until 2012 but has been slowly dropping since then.

>>Find out more about these data and trends

    More information

    When this indicator is updated

    The New Zealand and Waikato region indicator is updated every year after the March quarter HLFS results are published. The district-level and Maori unemployment rates are updated every 5 years after the results of each census are published.

    Contact at Waikato Regional Council

    Social Scientist - Science and Strategy Directorate


    1. Statistics New Zealand defines an unemployed people as 'All people in the working-age population who, during the week ended  were without a paid job, were available for work and:
      • had actively sought work in the 4 weeks prior, or
      • had a new job to start within 4 weeks.
      A person whose only job search method in the four weeks prior to the Census has been to look at job advertisements in the newspapers is not considered to be actively seeking work.'
    2. Only the area of Rotorua district surrounding Reporoa is included in the Waikato region.
    3. Paraskevopoulos, S, KJ Korfiatis & JD Pantis. 2003. Social Exclusion as Constraint for the Development of Environmentally Friendly Attitudes. Society and Natural Resources, 16: 759-774.