Unemployment rate increases to 3.6 percent in latest quarter

The unemployment rate has edged up to 3.6 percent in the three months ended June from 3.4 percent.

Employment growth was a stronger than expected 1 percent, and wages grew 4.3 percent in the year ended June 30, Stats NZ figures released today show.

Stats NZ said there was a rise in underutilisation, from 9.1 percent to 9.8 percent, as more underemployed part-timers wanted to find additional working hours.

The number of people in the workforce hit a record high, while the economy added 113,000 jobs over the past year.

The Reserve Bank wants the labour market to soften to ease wage pressures and help slow inflation.

Business confidence lifted slightly in July but firms remained wary as the economy cooled.

The latest ANZ business outlook survey for July showed a net 13.1 percent of respondents expected the economy to get worse, an improvement of 5 points from June.

However, the more closely followed own activity measure turned flat at net 0.8 percent, as it dipped from 2.7 percent in June.

ANZ senior economist Sharon Zollner said the labour market was holding up reasonably well, however, the construction and agriculture sectors saw the biggest falls in activity indicators in July.