NZ unemployment rate falls again

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New Zealand's unexpectedly soft economic landing from the COVID-19 pandemic has continued with a further fall in the unemployment rate.

In figures released by Stats NZ on Wednesday, New Zealand's joblessness dropped to 4.7 per cent in the March quarter.

Unemployment sat at a 12-year low of 4.0 per cent prior to the arrival of COVID-19, which saw unemployment peak at just 5.2 per cent in September last year.

Both that peak, and subsequent falls, have defied the expectations of Treasury and economic analysts.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson claimed the figures showed the government's economic recovery plan was working.

"The government's plan to keep people connected to their job and accelerate the recovery has been reflected in these positive results," he said.

"An extra 32,000 people are in jobs since September 2020, when unemployment peaked at 5.2 per cent."

Mr Robertson said NZ bested the similar rate in Australia (5.9 per cent), United States (6.2 per cent) and Canada (8.4 per cent).

Like Australia, the NZ government borrowed huge amounts to pay workers through its nationwide lockdowns, funding various other programs to boost employment.

The new figures also show male and female unemployment converging to sit at 4.7 per cent.

Prior to the March quarter, female unemployment had outstripped male for four years.

"There have been some gains in labour market outcomes, especially for women, over the past two quarters," Stats NZ manager Sean Broughton said.

"However, annual changes indicate the labour market still hasn't returned to pre-COVID-19 levels for men or women."

While unemployment was down, underutilisation was up.

The seasonally-adjusted underutilisation rate rose 0.4 per cent to 12.2 per cent, meaning about 366,000 Kiwis want more work.