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One in 14 employed people report high risk of losing jobs – Media release

8 September 2020

About one in 14 workers say they expect to lose their job or business by mid-2021, Stats NZ said today.

A survey of employed people in the June 2020 quarter showed 7 percent felt there was a high or almost certain chance of losing their job or business within the next 12 months. At a national level this represented 185,000 workers. A further 18 percent (468,000) felt there was a medium chance, while 4 percent (105,000) stated they did not know what their job security was going to be over the following year.

Most people surveyed said there was little or no chance of losing their job or business (71 percent or 1,859,000).

The household labour force survey (HLFS) June 2020 quarter was collected over a three-month period from April to June and asked employed people about their perceived job security over the next 12 months. During the collection period, New Zealand dropped from COVID-19 alert level 4 in April to alert level 1 by June.

“People who felt the chance of losing their job or business was high or almost certain were considered to have low job security,” labour market statistics manager Andrew Neal said.

“As you might expect, people were more anxious and uncertain about their jobs under the higher alert levels than in level 1.”

Small businesses have been vulnerable during the pandemic. Self-employed people who did not have staff or employees of their own felt more insecure about losing their business than employees felt about losing their job. Ten percent of self-employed people without employees reported low job security, compared with 6 percent of employees.

Employees can be either permanent or temporary. There were significant differences in job security between the two groups.

“Temporary workers felt most at risk of losing their job over the following year, with 1 in 5 feeling it was almost certain or highly likely they would lose their short-term job before it was due to end,” Mr Neal said.

“This compared with only 1 in 20 permanent employees feeling pretty certain they would lose their job within the next year.”

There were varying levels of job security between the different types of temporary employees. Twenty-two percent of temporary agency and fixed-term employees reported low job security, stating it was almost certain or there was a high chance they would lose their job before it was due to end. Twenty percent of casual employees and 9 percent of seasonal workers who usually live in New Zealand also reported low job security.

“There may be a feeling out there that layoffs will occur by last in, first out,” Mr Neal said.

“Workers who had just started in their jobs felt twice as likely they were probably going to lose their jobs, than those who had worked for five years or more in the same job.”

COVID-19 affects job security in certain industries and occupations

There was considerable variation in job security by industry, as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected some industries more than others. More than 1 in 10 of those working in transport, postal, and warehousing stated they had low job security. This industry group includes air, road freight and taxi, and other road transport workers. Nine percent of those with jobs in retail trade and accommodation and food services industries stated they had low job security.

Around 6,000 people working in travel agent services reported low job security. Travel agent jobs are categorised within the professional, scientific, technical, administrative, and support services industry group, in which 1 in 11 workers expect to lose their job over the coming year.

There was also considerable variation by occupation. People working in community and personal service occupations recorded low job security (10 percent). This group includes travel consultants, flight attendants, baristas, waiters, teachers aids, and personal care assistants.

Low job security was also reported for the labourer and sales workers occupation groups, with 8 percent of workers in both groups stating they had a high or almost certain chance of losing their job or business within the next year.

See ‘Household labour force survey: June 2020 quarter – supplementary tables’ under Download data for more data on job security.