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Jobless households in New Zealand: June 2017 quarter

Household finance Unemployment Labour market Poverty Socioeconomic status Financial inclusion New Zealand


Jobless households in New Zealand looks at the number and structure of jobless households in New Zealand, and examines some of the characteristics of the individuals living in these households. Data from the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) has been used to produce the analysis in this paper.


Unemployment and wider joblessness is often examined at the individual level. However, looking at labour force status at the household level can provide further information to help understand the well-being of households, and of the people living in those households. The impact of joblessness on individuals can often be mitigated by the financial and social support of others, particularly those they share a household with. In contrast, jobless households may have increased reliance on government support, experience financial hardship, and suffer from diminished social networks and other forms of social isolation. 

Children who live in jobless households may be at increased risk of disadvantage and of experiencing poverty, which can significantly affect their current and future well-being. Intergenerational joblessness can also become a risk where there are no role models of employment in the household. However, there are potential positive effects for children living in jobless households where the parent(s) is jobless for reasons of care or study. 

Summary of key points

In the June 2017 quarter:

  • One in 10 households were jobless.
  • Joblessness was higher in single-adult households, particularly sole-parent households.
  • Jobless household rates were highest in households with either no dependent children or a large number of dependent children (four or more).
  • Women were more likely to live in jobless households than men.
  • While those aged 55–64 have fairly low unemployment rates, they were more likely than other age groups to live in jobless households.
  • Those born in New Zealand were more likely to be living in jobless households.
  • Individuals living in jobless households were more likely to have no or low levels of formal qualifications.
  • People of Māori ethnicity were more likely to live in a jobless household.
  • Disabled people were over-represented in jobless households
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