Economic Note: Q1 2018 Labour Market Preview

  • We expect to see a moderate 0.5% increase for HLFS employment (3.2% yoy), which should push the unemployment rate down to 4.4%, a fresh 9-year low. Measures of labour utilisation should remain elevated.
  • Quarterly labour costs are expected to climb 0.4% qoq on the LCI measure, with private sector, public sector and total annual LCI inflation either at (or just below) 2%. Risks are tilted to the upside.
  • The labour market is tight and looks to be in little need of policy stimulus to meet employment objectives in the new PTA. Still-low CPI inflation provides the RBNZ with breathing space and we do not expect the next OCR hike until August 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.