Q2 2018 Labour Market Review: Labour market solid but contained wage inflation keeps RBNZ on the side-lines

  • HLFS employment was in line with expectations (+0.5% qoq versus +0.4% qoq). Measures of labour utilisation remained at historically-high levels, with rising labour force participation pushing up the unemployment rate to 4.5%.
  • As expected, increases in the minimum wage triggered a 0.6% qoq increase in private sector LCI wages, with annual inflation (2.1% yoy) the highest in six years.  However, distributional measures showed limited evidence that wage inflation is becoming more widespread.
  • The labour market is tight, but a moderate outlook for consumer price and wage inflation maintains the need for supportive OCR settings.  The next move on the OCR is probably up, but not until late 2019.


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Nick Tuffley

ASB Chief Economist

Since starting out in 1997 as an economist, it's fair to say Nick has seen a few hair-raising moments over the years, including the Asian Financial Crisis and the Global Financial Crisis.

One of Nick's strengths is his ability to communicate complex ideas in a readily understandable and entertaining way.  He thrives on helping people understand the economic environment to help enrich the quality of their business or personal life. He’s proud to lead a team that has won two Forecast Accuracy Awards from Consensus Economics, and has a strong track record with their Official Cash Rate and dairy price forecasts. 

Nick grew up in Christchurch and graduated with a Master of Commerce degree from the University of Canterbury.  He learned his economic ropes at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand before a long stint as a Senior Economist at Westpac, and joined ASB as Chief Economist in 2007.

Mark Smith

Senior Economist

Mark joined ASB in 2017, with over 20 years of public and private sector experience working as an economist in New Zealand and the UK.

His resume includes lengthy stints at ANZ and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, and he has also worked at the Bank of England, HM Treasury and the New Zealand Transport Agency. Mark's areas of specialisation include interest rate strategy, macro-economic analysis and urban economics.

Born and bred in the Waikato, Mark studied at Waikato University where he graduated with a Master of Social Sciences, majoring in Economics.

Mark's key strengths are the ability to use his extensive experience, inquisitive nature, analytical ability, creativity and pragmatism to dig a little deeper and to deliver common sense solutions to tackle complex problems.

When not at work Mark likes to travel, keep fit and spend time with his friends and family.