According to Statisctics NZ, the labour force category to which a person is assigned depends on their actual activity during a survey reference week. The following definitions, which conform closely to the international standard definitions specified by the International Labour Organization, are:
Working-age population: The usually resident, non-institutionalised, civilian population of New Zealand aged 15 years and over.
Labour force: Members of the working-age population who during their survey reference week were classified as 'employed' or 'unemployed'.
Employed: All persons in the working-age population who during the reference week worked for one hour or more (our emphasis) for pay or profit in the context of an employee/employer relationship or self-employment; or worked without pay for one hour or more in work which contributed directly to the operation of a farm, business or professional practice owned or operated by a relative; or had a job but were not at work due to: own illness or injury, personal or family responsibilities, bad weather or mechanical breakdown, direct involvement in an industrial dispute, or leave or holiday.
Unemployed: All persons in the working-age population who during the reference week were without a paid job, available for work and had either actively sought work in the past four weeks ending with the reference week, or had a new job to start within the next four weeks.
Not in the labour force: Any person in the working-age population who is neither employed nor unemployed. For example, this residual category includes persons who:
- are retired
- have personal or family responsibilities such as unpaid housework and childcare
- attend educational institutions
- are permanently unable to work due to physical or mental disabilities
- were temporarily unavailable for work in the survey reference week
- are not actively seeking work.
Unemployment rate: The number of unemployed persons expressed as a percentage of the labour force.
Labour force participation rate: The total labour force expressed as a percentage of the working-age population.
This definition of labour force participation includes all those aged 15 years and over in the numerator (the total labour force) and the denominator (the working-age population). This definition is the most appropriate for the New Zealand labour market, as New Zealand does not have a compulsory retirement age, and many workers stay in the labour force beyond the age of 65. Using this definition also means that the measure will reflect changes in labour market demographics, in particular the increasing number of employees working beyond 65 years.
Part-timers wanting more work: Underemployed workers are those who are employed part-time but would prefer to work more hours.
Youth unemployment rate: This is for ages 15-19 years. The rate is high, but falls sharply lower for subsequent age ranges. High youth unemployment rates corelate tightly with the removal of youth minimum pay rates which were abolished in 2008.