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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




Statistics covering all economic activities are available in five-yearly census reports both by industries and by main occupational classes. Census classifications have changed considerably and a fully comparable series of statistics is not available. The following table based on census reports and using the most nearly comparable groupings nevertheless gives a broad indication of the way in which distribution of employment between different sectors of economic activity has changed.

Activity in Which Engaged Percentage of Actively Engaged Persons in Each Activity
1896 1911 1926 1936 1951 1961
Professional and administrative 6·5 7·2 9·8 10·6 15·2 15·2
Domestic and personal service 9·8 9·8 7·5 8·1 4·2 5·1
Commercial and finance 11·4 14·5 14·1 15·2 16·4 18·2
Transport and communication 5·7 8·0 9·9 10·6 10·5 10·0
Industrial 27·8 29·4 22·6 24·3 33·5 35·9
Agricultural and pastoral 28·3 24·2 20·3 22·1 17·4 13·6
Mining and quarrying 6·3 3·3 1·4 1·7 1·0 0·8
Other primary 1·4 1·3 2·3 2·0 1·0 0·8
Residual groups (including ill-defined, etc.) 2·8 2·3 12·1 5·4 0·8 0·4

Over this period the census labour force increased as follows:

1896 294,625
1911 454,117
1926 551,997
1936 644,448
1951 740,496
1956 816,852
1961 895,363

Since 1947 comprehensive statistics of employment for most of the main fields of economic activity have been available from half-yearly returns furnished to the Labour Department by establishments employing two or more persons. Farming, fishing, hunting, trapping, and domestic employment in private households are the main exclusions. The statistics show the numbers actively engaged by industries, number of vacancies, turnover of labour, hours worked, and earnings. They are published in the Labour Department's quarterly Labour and Employment Gazette and in summary form in the Monthly Abstract of Statistics and the N.Z. Official Yearbook.

In April 1961, of a total of some 892,000 persons actively engaged in economic activities, 648,294 were covered as full-time employees or working proprietors in the half-yearly returns. The following information is taken from the April 1965 returns:

Full-time employees Males 486,024
Females 200,414
Part-time employees Males 20,386
Females 34,669
Vacancies Males 14,218
Females 4,720
Average weekly hours Ordinary time 37·6
(all employees) Overtime 3·1
Average hourly earnings Ordinary time 9s.7·5d.
(all employees) Overtime 13s.4·4d.

An article in the Labour and Employment Gazette of February 1965 analysed the regional distribution of employment. The employment districts of Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua, and Gisborne (roughly the northern half of the North Island) had some 41 per cent of New Zealand's labour force. The remainder of the labour force was almost equally divided between the rest of the North Island and the South Island.

Next Part: Unemployment