The number of unemployed persons fell by 4.4 percent or by 6,000 people to 132,000. Employment went up by 1.2 percent or by 29,000 to 2.54 million people. This followed a 0.8 percent increase in employment in the December 2016 quarter.
The labour force participation rate edged up 10 bps over the last quarter to reach an all-time high of 70.6 percent. The number of people participating in the labour force, at 2.649 million, increased by 1.2 percent (up 29,000 people), with men contributing more than women to the increase. The unemployment rate for men fell from 4.8 percent to 4.2 percent, making it the lowest rate since the December 2008 quarter.
Annual wage inflation, as measured by the labour cost index, edged down to 1.5 percent in the first quarter of 2017, slightly below 1.6 percent in the previous period and also below expectations of 1.7 percent. Private sector wages rose by 1.5 percent (vs +1.6 percent in the previous quarter) while public sector wages went up by 1.7 percent (vs +1.8 percent).