Job numbers fall sharply in April – Stats NZ Media and Information Release: Employment indicators: April 2020

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Job numbers fall sharply in April Media release

28 May 2020

Job numbers fell by a record 37,500 in April 2020, as COVID-19 effects and restricted trading began to impact on the economy, Stats NZ said today.

In seasonally adjusted terms, total filled jobs fell 1.7 percent in April 2020 compared with March 2020, when it was flat.

April’s fall is the largest in percentage terms and by number since the filled jobs series began more than 20 years ago, in 1999.

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“With the country in lockdown throughout most of April 2020, the impact of COVID-19 is now being seen in falling job numbers,” economic statistics manager Sue Chapman said.

“Non-essential businesses closed during the lockdown, though some people were able to work from home.”

Stats NZ calculates filled jobs by averaging weekly jobs paid during the month, based on tax data. Filled jobs include jobs paid by employers who are being subsidised by the COVID-19 wage subsidy scheme.

“While a fall in filled jobs does not necessarily mean employment has ceased in all cases, we saw a rise of over 30,000 people claiming the government’s Jobseeker Support benefit in April,” Ms Chapman said.

See COVID-19 data portal for data on the changing state of aspects of the economy since the COVID-19 outbreak.

By broad industry, filled jobs in the primary industries fell 4.3 percent (4,480 jobs). Filled jobs in the goods-producing industries fell 1.0 percent (4,153 jobs) and in the service industries they fell 1.7 percent (29,317 jobs).

At a lower industry level, actual (not seasonally adjusted) filled jobs fell in almost every industry between March 2020 and April 2020. The largest falls were in agriculture, forestry, and fishing (down 8,488 jobs), accommodation and food services (down 6,251 jobs), and manufacturing (down 3,797 jobs).

At a regional level, actual (not seasonally adjusted) filled jobs fell in all regions between March 2020 and April 2020.

See our dynamic map monthly changes in filled job numbers by region for more information.

Gross earnings

The amount of gross earnings paid to employees in April 2020 was $11.1 billion. This compares with $10.8 billion paid in April 2019. Gross earnings often move up and down every month due to payday timings.

“These gross earnings include earnings paid by employers subsidised by the COVID-19 wage subsidy scheme,” Ms Chapman said.

Additional data released

Stats NZ has released the following additional data to help better inform on the impacts of COVID-19 on jobs and earnings in the economy.

  • Filled jobs data for all lower-level industries (Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) 2006 divisional levels). Previously Stats NZ released some of the lower-level industries. This is actual data only, from May 2019 to April 2020. See Employment indicators: April 2020 and access the filled jobs CSV file under ‘Download data’.
  • Filled jobs data by region. This is actual data only, from May 2019 to April 2020. See Employment indicators: April 2020 and access the regional filled jobs CSV file under ‘Download data’.

COVID-19 data portal includes employment indicators data as well as other labour market indicators including jobseeker support benefits and wage subsidy assistance.

Stats NZ Information Release: Effects of COVID-19 on trade: 1 February–20 May 2020 (provisional)

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Effects of COVID-19 on trade: 1 February–20 May 2020 (provisional)

27 May 2020

Effects of COVID-19 on trade is a weekly update on New Zealand’s daily goods trade with the world from 1 February 2020. Comparing the values with previous years shows the potential impacts of COVID-19.

The data is provisional and should be regarded as an early, indicative estimate of intentions to trade only, subject to revision.

We advise caution in making decisions based on this data.

More data

Stats NZ COVID-19 dashboard presents the data in graphical format.

Definitions and metadata

Overseas merchandise trade weekly series – Datainfo+ provides the methodology used, and information on the quality and limitations of the dataset.

Stats NZ release notification

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Dear subscriber,

Below you can find Stats NZ’s information releases for the next week. For more information about these releases go to Insights and make your selections in the drop down options.

28 May 2020
Employment indicators: April 2020
View recent Employment indicators releases

29 May 2020
2018 Census data – families and households
View recent 2018 Census releases

2 June 2020
Building consents issued: April 2020
View recent Building consents issued releases

Overseas trade indexes (prices and volumes): March 2020 quarter (provisional)
View recent Overseas trade indexes (prices and volumes) releases

2018 Census families and households – news story
View recent 2018 Census releases

3 June 2020
Goods and services trade by country: Year ended March 2020
View recent Goods and services trade by country releases

Effects of COVID-19 on trade: 1 February–27 May 2020 (provisional)
View recent Effects of COVID-19 on trade releases

Our release calendar has a full list of release dates for official statistics.

The release calendar is updated six months ahead, but dates may change due to events related to Covid-19.

Information releases include the latest statistics for the subject, with a summary (in the Key facts section), statistical Tables, and links to metadata and related information.

M = a media conference will be held for this release.

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Record monthly surplus as imports dive – Stats NZ Media and Information Release: Overseas merchandise trade: April 2020

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Record monthly surplus as imports dive – Media release

26 May 2020

Imports in April 2020 had their biggest fall since October 2009, resulting in a monthly trade surplus of $1.3 billion, Stats NZ said today.

“This is the largest monthly trade surplus on record and the annual goods trade deficit is the lowest since March 2015,” international statistics manager Darren Allan said.

“A sharp fall in imports of petroleum, vehicles, and machinery, combined with steady exports, led to a record trade surplus.”  

The value of goods imported in April 2020 fell $1.1 billion (22 percent) to $4.0 billion when compared with April 2019.  This is the second largest fall on record since the series began in 1960. This drop coincides with the COVID-19 level 4 lockdown, which started at the end of March and ran until the end of April, when non-essential businesses temporarily closed.

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The largest contributor to the fall in imports was petroleum and products, which fell $352 million (58 percent) from a year ago. Within this category the value of crude oil imports fell $255 million (77 percent) after a relatively high value in April last year.

"This is crude oil’s lowest value since May 2018," Mr Allan said.

“May 2018 was when the Marsden Point refinery closed for maintenance.”

A fall in petrol and diesel of $97 million (down 35 percent) coincided with fewer New Zealanders driving their cars during the alert level 4 lockdown. Households are the largest users of petrol in New Zealand (using 59 percent of total petrol in the year ended March 2013).

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"Imports of cars and trucks also dropped as COVID-19 disrupted both the international supply chain and the local demand for new vehicles, with car dealerships closed during the lockdown," Mr Allan said.

This resulted in a fall of $119 million (33 percent) in car imports and a $111 million (52 percent) drop in imports of trucks and vans. The fall in motor cars was also reflected in the number of newly registered cars plunging from 17,661 to 1,329.

Imports of cell phones also fell sharply in April 2020, down $36 million (42 percent). This was the largest contributor to the fall in electrical machinery and equipment, down $144 million (32 percent).

Imports of face masks and laptops jump in April

New Zealand imported $65 million worth of face masks in April 2020, during the alert level 4 lockdown imposed by the government to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“This is the single biggest month for imports of face masks on record and up $58 million on levels seen in the same month in 2019,” Mr Allan said.

“This follows an announcement from the government that they had managed to arrange the import of 41 million masks from China.”

Imports from China of laptop computers also rose $43 million (62 percent), coinciding with many New Zealanders working from home because non-essential businesses were closed.

Imports from European Union drop

Imports from the European Union (EU) fell in April 2020 when compared with April 2019, down $405 million (40 percent), from $1 billion to $606 million. A large portion ($166 million) of this fall was due to a high value of aircraft and parts imported in April last year. Imports of aircraft and parts typically move up and down sharply, due to the timing of large aircraft arrivals.

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Imports from the EU of electrical machinery and equipment, rail locomotives and rolling stock, and mechanical machinery, also fell compared with April 2019.

See Effects of COVID-19 on trade: 1 February–13 May 2020 for an earlier release of provisional trade statistics.

Logging halt undercuts strong export month – Stats NZ Media and Information Release: Overseas merchandise trade: April 2020

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Logging halt undercuts strong export month – Media release

26 May 2020

Log exports fell sharply in April 2020 after logging operations were suspended during alert level 4, but average prices per cubic metre picked up, Stats NZ said today.

In contrast, dairy and fruit exports were strong despite fears of port congestion amid the COVID-19 pandemic.    

Total exports fell $220 million (4 percent) to $5.3 billion in April 2020 compared with the same month last year.

“Total exports would have been worth almost the same as April last year, if they had not been undercut by the big drop in logs,” international statistics manager Darren Allan said.

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Exports of logs were worth just $96 million in April 2020, down $211 million from $307 million last April. While the quantity of logs exported fell 69 percent, the biggest-ever monthly percentage fall, the price has risen to $170 a cubic metre this month after falling to $137 in July 2019.

“Log harvesting was a non-essential service under alert level 4 and didn’t restart until alert level 3 at the end of April, so it is understandable that log exports have dropped sharply,” Mr Allan said.

Most New Zealand logs are exported to China.

“However, the increase in unit price may suggest there is still unmet demand as log inventories in China are run down and export values may bounce back quickly as harvesting picks up again.”

The value of sawn timber exports also fell $61 million or 79 percent, reflecting the log shortage.

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Higher milk powder prices offset log delays

Dairy exports were strong in April 2020 – milk powder exports rose $202 million (29 percent) on April last year. The rise was entirely price driven with no increase in quantities.

Butter was the only major dairy product to fall this month – dropping $15 million to $126 million.

Japan hungry for New Zealand fruit while crude oil prices plummet

Gold kiwifruit exports continued to rise after a strong showing in March 2020. Gold kiwifruit increased $116 million (37 percent) in April 2020 when compared with April 2019. Exports to Japan led this increase, with gold kiwifruit exports to the country more than doubling compared with April last year.

“The value of apple exports increased $49 million as exporters managed to secure shipments, despite fears of clogged ports and worker shortages,” Mr. Allan said.

“This rise was led by exports to Japan, not typically a major market for our apples.”

Exports to Australia fell $161 million (24 percent), with crude oil being the biggest factor in the fall. Export prices of New Zealand crude oil began to fall significantly in March, coinciding with global crude prices crashing following the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. New Zealand’s crude oil prices are now at their lowest level since February 2016.

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See Effects of COVID-19 on trade: 1 February–13 May 2020 for an earlier release of provisional trade statistics.

COVID-19 measures dent retail sales – Stats NZ Media and Information Release: Retail trade survey: March 2020 quarter

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COVID-19 measures dent retail sales – Media release

22 May 2020

Spending on vehicles, on eating out, and on accommodation away from home fell sharply in the March 2020 quarter in the lead up to the COVID-19 lockdown, Stats NZ said today.

After adjusting for price and seasonal effects, the volume of total retail sales fell 0.7 percent in the March 2020 quarter, after a relatively flat December 2019 quarter.

“This is the largest fall in total volume sales in eight years,” retail statistics manager Kathy Hicks said.

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Motor vehicle and parts retailing had the largest fall in sales volumes of all the 15 retail industries, down 7.5 percent in the March 2020 quarter.

This was followed by the hospitality industries, with food and beverage services down 6.7 percent and accommodation down 9.3 percent.

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“Efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 led to the closure of all non-essential businesses from midnight March 25,” Ms Hicks said.

“This hit car yards, takeaways, restaurants, hotels and motels hard, with sales dropping sharply.

“These falls may continue into the June 2020 quarter, with a record fall in monthly electronic card sales already reported for April, as many businesses went into hibernation because of the COVID-19 lockdown.”

Spending halves during lockdown has more detail on retail card spending across the country in April.

 “Hospitality industries have also been hit by lack of international visitor arrivals due to travel restrictions since early February, which were meant to protect New Zealanders against COVID-19,” Ms Hicks said.

International visitor arrivals to New Zealand March 2020 has more detail on changes in monthly international visitor arrival numbers in March.

These falls were offset by a record increase in supermarket and grocery stores, up 8.5 percent.

“Supermarkets stayed open during the level 4 COVID-19 lockdown as an essential business, and widespread reports stated people stocked up on food and supplies as the quarter progressed,” Ms Hicks said.

Sales values dampened by motor vehicles and hospitality

Including price changes, the seasonally adjusted value of total retail sales fell 0.4 percent ($89 million) in the March 2020 quarter, after a 0.5 percent ($120 million) rise in the December 2019 quarter.

Sales values for motor vehicle and parts retailing were down 7.4 percent ($248 million). This was followed by the two hospitality industries, food and beverage services, down 5.8 percent ($179 million) and accommodation, down 11 percent ($127 million).

Supermarkets and grocery stores had a record increase in sales value, up 9.7 percent ($514 million).

In actual terms, the value of total retail sales was $24.8 billion in the March 2020 quarter, up 3.4 percent ($819 million) from the March 2019 quarter.

Record sales slump in Otago

Retail sales fell the most in the Auckland and Otago regions in the March 2020 quarter.

“This coincided with border closures reducing overseas visitor arrivals and a fall in the number of foreign students coming to New Zealand for tertiary studies,” Ms Hicks said.

Travel restrictions hit the hospitality sector in tourist destinations such as Auckland, which is often the first port of call for many overseas visitors. The Auckland region had the largest dollar value fall this quarter, down 0.9 percent ($86 million).

Otago had the next largest fall in dollar terms, down 4.1 percent ($57 million). This quarter’s fall was the largest for Otago since the regional series began in June 2011.

 “Otago’s fall in sales reflects the significant drop in overseas tourists to the Queenstown area, and fewer overseas and New Zealand students returning to Dunedin for university at the start of the year,” Ms Hicks said.

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COVID-19 data portal provides economic, social, and health indicators including weekly traffic counts and fuel supply volumes.

Key border restrictions and COVID-19 Alert System timeline

2 February 2020: NZ Government places entry restrictions into New Zealand on all foreign nationals travelling from or transiting through mainland China.

19 March 2020: New Zealand’s borders closed to almost all travellers, except for returning New Zealanders.

23 March 2020: New Zealand enters COVID-19 alert level 3 (Restrict)

25 March 2020: New Zealand enters COVID-19 alert level 4 (Eliminate)

Stats NZ welcomes new advisory board – Stats NZ Media Release

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Stats NZ welcomes new advisory board – Media release

21 May 2020

Stats NZ welcomes the announcements by Minister of Statistics James Shaw that a new governance advisory board is to be established for Stats NZ and that Stats NZ has received funding from Budget 2020 to run the next census in 2023.

“The Minister described the important role Stats NZ plays in New Zealand, particularly as we continue to monitor the ongoing impact of COVID-19. Stats NZ understands the high level of trust and confidence placed in the independence and integrity of the data it holds on behalf of all New Zealanders,” Government Statistician and Stats NZ Chief Executive Mark Sowden said.

“Establishing a governance advisory board will provide me with a welcome source of independent advice and challenge,” Mr Sowden said.

“The members of the advisory board bring a diverse range of experience and knowledge, and I look forward to working with them and others to shape Stats NZ’s future.”

The members of the new governance advisory board are: Vic Crone (Chair), Lillian Grace, Māui Hudson, John Martin, Nicki Crauford, and Te Rau Kupenga. Mark Sowden and the chair of the new Risk and Assurance Committee, Wendy Venter, will also sit on the board.

As a result of the Government budget announced last Thursday, all up, $210 million in funding is currently available to run the 2023 Census.

“This funding means New Zealanders will see many more census collectors in 2023,” Mr Sowden said.

There will be more than double the number of census collectors employed to support people to take part in the 2023 Census than there were in 2018.

Stats NZ will also invest more in meaningful, enduring community engagement, especially for Māori and iwi, so it can increase collection response rates above those for the 2018 Census.

“We want to work with Māori and iwi to support very high levels of participation in the census,” Mr Sowden said.

Other changes include using a wider variety of languages in communicating about the census and providing more individual support for people who may need it to be able to complete their census questions quickly and easily.

Stats NZ is currently refining the high-level design for the next census in line with funding provided in Budget 2020. Once finalised, the design will be available on the Stats NZ website.  

The 2023 Census business case and detailed management case are available on Funding and delivering the next census: 2023 Census of Population and Dwellings.

Stats NZ release notification

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Dear subscriber,

Below you can find Stats NZ’s information releases for the next week. For more information about these releases go to Insights and make your selections in the drop down options.

22 May 2020
Retail trade survey: March 2020 quarter
View recent Retail trade survey releases

26 May 2020
Overseas merchandise trade: April 2020
View recent Overseas merchandise trade releases

27 May 2020
Effects of COVID-19 on trade: 1 February–20 May 2020 (provisional)
View recent Effects of COVID-19 on trade releases

Our release calendar has a full list of release dates for official statistics.

The release calendar is updated six months ahead, but dates may change due to events related to Covid-19.

Information releases include the latest statistics for the subject, with a summary (in the Key facts section), statistical Tables, and links to metadata and related information.

M = a media conference will be held for this release.

You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date on releases and further information:
 

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Visit our Other publications we’re working on, to see some of the publications we’re planning to publish.

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New Zealand trade after the COVID-19 outbreak – 20 May update – Stats NZ Media and Information Release: Effects of COVID-19 on trade: 1 February–13 May 2020 (provisional)

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New Zealand trade after the COVID-19 outbreak – 20 May update Media release

20 May 2020

Daily goods trade data between 1 February and 13 May gives an updated glance at New Zealand’s trade with the world since the COVID-19 outbreak, Stats NZ said today.

For the week ended 13 May 2020 compared with the equivalent week in 2019:

  • total exports to all countries were down 9.7 percent ($123 million), from $1.27 billion to $1.15 billion
  • total imports from all countries were up 13 percent ($151 million), from $1.13 billion to $1.28 billion
  • exports to China were down 13 percent ($40 million), from $319 million to $279 million.
  • imports from China were down 4.2 percent ($10 million), from $239 million to $229 million.

The high-level graphs released today show total export and import values, export and import values to and from China, and export values of non-food manufactured goods.

The data is provisional and should be regarded as an early, indicative estimate of intentions to trade only, subject to revision.

The data compares trade from 1 February to 13 May 2020 against previous years. This allows for an estimate to be made of what may have happened to trade, if they had followed typical patterns.

Stats NZ urges caution in making decisions based on this provisional data.

Potato prices reach all-time high in April – Stats NZ Media and Information Release: Food price index: April 2020

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Potato prices reach all-time high in April – Media release

20 May 2020

Rising prices for potatoes, soft drinks (large bottles), capsicums, and fresh eggs saw overall food prices up 1.0 percent in April 2020, Stats NZ said today.

Potato prices rose 18 percent in April to a weighted average price of $2.51 per kilo, an all-time peak.

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Some media reports suggest the potato industry has seen a 30–50 percent increase in demand from supermarkets and a shortage of workers.

“Higher demand and a shortage of potato pickers, many of whom stayed home due to fear of the COVID-19 virus, could explain this large price increase,” consumer prices manager Bryan Downes said.

Prices for fresh eggs (caged and barn) rose almost 7 percent to a record weighted average price of $4.78 per dozen. A decade ago a single egg cost 28 cents, and in April this year it reached 40 cents an egg.

Free-range egg prices also rose, by 1.2 percent to a weighted average price of $5.16 per half-dozen.

“Fresh egg prices have been on a gradual rise for the last two years as more New Zealand farmers shift from caged eggs to barned and free-range eggs,” Mr Downes said.

Eggs are an important item on most consumers’ shopping list. Figures show that spending on eggs for all New Zealand households in the year ended June 2019 was over $4,072,000 a week, an average of $2.30 per household.

Detailed household expenditure, year ended June 2019 has more information on household spending.

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Food prices up in year to April

Food prices increased 4.4 percent to the year ended April 2020, the largest annual movement in over eight years. This rise was influenced by higher prices for grocery food (up 4.2 percent), meat, poultry, and fish (up 6.2 percent), and non-alcoholic beverages (up 4.7 percent).

Key movers for grocery food include:

  • cheddar cheese, up 17 percent
  • white bread, up 24 percent
  • Camembert cheese, up 15 percent
  • sweets, up 12 percent
  • biscuits, cracker style, up 9 percent.

Potato prices increased 38 percent in the year, the largest contributor to the annual rise in food prices.

“Potato prices tend to only peak once in a year, around December or January, but this year we’ve seen a second growth in April,” Mr Downes said.

Prices also increased for soft drinks (large bottles), and beef porterhouse/sirloin steak. These were partly offset by lower prices for avocados, tomatoes, and lamb leg.

See Impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown on methodology for food price index April 2020 for information about changes to data collection and how missing items were substituted with other values.