Nowcasting the current rate of unemployment using administrative data

The unemployment rate is an important economic and social indicator that is an input into decision making by government, the private sector, community, and individuals. There is a time lag in the availability of the indicator because it is based on a survey of households over the three months of each quarter, and the indicator is then published approximately 5 weeks after surveying has finished. The UR-NOW model utilises administrative data about the receipt of benefits and the number of filled jobs to predict or nowcast the headline unemployment rate for the current quarter. The aim is to provide more timely information about the unemployment rate, which is particularly important during times of increasing economic volatility and uncertainty.

UR-NOW predictions on the unemployment rate will appear on this webpage usually at the end of the first week of each month.

Recent Data: UR-NOW estimates and HLFS unemployment rate

The latest official, seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for the quarter ending in June 2022 was 3.3%. This is low by historical standards and suggests that the labour market is relatively tight.

Administrative data had been predicting low unemployment rates since September 2021. Our latest UR-Now estimate suggests that the unemployment rate remains relatively stable from our estimates in the first quarter and may be sitting at 3.1% in August 2022.

UR-Now quarter 1 and 2 2021

Quarter

Unemployment Rate at the Time of Initial HLFS Release (seasonally adjusted)

End of month date for nowcast

UR-NOW estimate

March 2020

4.2%

January 2020

4.0%

February 2020

4.0%

March 2020

4.1%

June 2020

4.0%

April 2020

5.1%

May 2020

5.2%

June 2020

4.9%

September 2020

5.3%

July 2020

5.3%

August 2020

5.3%

September 2020

5.2%

December 2020

4.9%

October 2020

5.4%

November 2020

5.3%

December 2020

5.3%

March 2021

4.7%

January 2021

4.9%

February 2021

4.8%

March 2021

4.8%

June 2021

4.0%

April 2021

4.6%

May 2021

4.7%

June 2021

4.6%

September 2021

3.4%

July 2021

3.9%

August 2021

3.8%

September 2021

3.8%

December
2021

3.2%

October 2021

3.5%

November 2021

3.5%

December 2021

3.4%

March 2022

3.2%

January 2022

3.1%

February 2022

3.0%

March 2022

3.1%

June 2022

3.3%

April 2022

3.2%

May 2022

3.3%

June 2022

3.3%

September 2022

-

July 2022

3.2%

August 2022

3.1%

September 2022

-

(Latest Updates: HLFS Update for Q2, 2022 (4 Aug 2022), UR-NOW Estimate for Aug 2022 (2 Sep 2022))

Background on the UR-Now model

Related links

Authors

David Rea
Principal Advisor, Ministry of Social Development

Tim Maloney
Professor with the School of Social Sciences and Public Policy, Auckland University of Technology
Chief Economist at Ministry of Social Development
Academic profile
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