Māori in the labour market - monitoring report

Māori in the Labour Market -2017 presents key labour market indicators for Māori between 2012 and 2017 using annualised data from the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS). This report also highlights key labour market indicators for eight iwi regions, which were definedusing regional boundaries of rohe.

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Key Results

Māori have generally poorer labour market outcomes compared to the rest of New Zealanders.

In 2017, there were 303,400 Māori employed in the labour market. While Māori in employment represent only 12.0 per cent of total national employment, Māori are overrepresented in the unemployed (28.1 per cent or 36,800) and underutilised (79,000 or 23.5 per cent) categories with nearly a third of youth ‘not in employment, education and training’ (NEET). Compared to the rest of the workforce:

Māori workers are younger. The 15-24 year olds represent a higher (21.0 per cent) percentage of employed compared to New Zealand Europeans (14.5 per cent).
Māori have higher proportion of workers employed in lower-skilled occupations, and in industries particularly vulnerable to changes in technology and economic cycles (e.g. manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade and construction).
The Māori unemployment rate (10.8 per cent) remains the highest and well above the national unemployment rate (4.9 per cent). The Māori unemployment rate is particularly high for youth (20.4 per cent) and women (12.0 per cent).

Between 2012 and 2017, Māori labour market outcomes have improved

In 2017, the labour force participation rate for Māori reached 69.7 per cent, the highest for Māori on record, driven by strong participation growth from women and youth. There were also more Māori in employment this year. The number of Māori employed in 2017 was 20.5 per cent (or 51,600 workers) higher than in 2012. Particularly strong increases were observed for youth, older workers and women.

Māori unemployment rates also fell during this period, again being led by women and youth. The Māori workforce is shifting towards more skilled1 occupations (from 39.0 in 2012 to 43.0 per cent in 2017) as Māori employment in business services expand.

However, there are strong regional disparities in Māori labour market outcomes

Unemployment rates range from a high of 16.7 per cent in the northern region of Te Tai Tokerau, to 8.3 per cent in Te Whanganui ā Tara. Similar patterns are observed for NEET rates. Urbanized regions have lower unemployment rates probably due to more employment opportunities in those regions. The regions with the lowest unemployment are also the regions with the smallest gap between Māori and non-Māori unemployment rates, and vice versa. The gap in NEET rates between Māori and non-Māori persists across regions, with only two regions experiencing a reduction in the gap: Te Tai Hauauru and Te Whanganui a Tara.

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