The New Zealand Department of Labour has announced that the unemployment rate has fallen in the March 2010 quarter from 7.1% to 6.0%. This is the largest quarterly fall since the Household Labour Market Survey began in 1986.
The New Zealand economy has been producing positive growth for a year now, and this quarterly rise bucks the usual downward seasonal trend. What’s more, the growth appears to be export-led, backed by the strong performance of New Zealand’s key trading partners in Australia and Asia. Export commodity prices are at all-time highs, even when converted back into New Zealand dollars, and the country has just recorded the first quarterly trade surplus for eight years.
New Zealand’s manufacturing industry is expanding again after two bad years, aided by the most favourable exchange rate with Australia in nearly 10 years. Meanwhile households' financial position has largely recovered from the devastation of the global financial crisis; their net wealth rose $47 billion last year, after falling $58 billion in 2008.
Although there is a good way to go, these positive results suggest that New Zealand is well-placed in the world economy to improve its levels of employment, income and overall quality of life.
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