Fears workers will lose their jobs as unemployment rate rises to 3.9 percent

The unemployment rate has now risen to 3.9 percent in its highest level since mid-2021. 

It brings the total number of unemployed New Zealanders to 118,000, which is an increase of 8000 from the previous quarter. 

Economists believe it's a good sign for the inflation battle, but it's little comfort for workers at risk of losing their jobs. 

Nelson Tainui has worked at New Zealand Post's Christchurch mail centre for 18 years, and he enjoys it. 

"Yes I do, I love the people," he said, when asked if he liked his job.

But as the state-owned enterprise faces a decline in mail volumes, Tainui and his team, have been hit with a tough proposal to get rid of the night shift. 

"It's a fear of the unknown, what's going to happen next?" he asked. 

NZ Post announced plans in June to layoff 750 staff over five years. "It is the first step," Tainui said. 

The workers' union has been told NZ Post also intends to replace all posties with contractors. 

"They would lose their sick pay, their holiday pay, the surety of a weekly income and all the costs would shift onto that person," E tū Negotiation Specialist Joe Gallagher said. 

NZ Post told us: "We are now working with our people to find the most efficient and cost-effective way to deliver the lower volume of mail for our customers," NZ Post told Newshub in a statement. 

NZ post isn't alone, after Deep Creek Brewing went into liquidation on Monday and staff were let go at online retailer Supie. 

Today's labour market statistics reflect the tough economic situation - the unemployment rate has risen for the third time in a row by up to 3.9 percent. 

Industry insiders say that's because inflation is making it difficult to run a business. Higher interest rates are diminishing the spending power of consumers - so businesses are bringing in less cash and have to make tough choices like laying off staff. 

Centrix data shows company liquidations are up 40 percent compared to last year, while mortgage arrears are up 23 percent. 

"Households are adjusting to higher mortgage costs," Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Christian Hawkesby said. 

The Reserve Bank acknowledged the financial pain caused by Official Cash Rate hikes. 

"The best thing we can do right now is to keep inflation tracking back to its target," Hawkesby said  

That target is between 2 to 3 percent, and we're now at 5.6 percent which is down from last year's high of 7.3 percent 

ASB senior economist Mark Smith believes rising unemployment is actually a positive sign for the inflation battle. 

"That's the sad thing, unfortunately, to beat inflation, the upshot will be people will be losing their jobs," Smith said. 

 Tainui just hopes that won't be him, or his colleagues.