Medium to long-term employment outlook: Looking ahead to 2026

In the medium-term, strong employment growth is anticipated to be matched by increasing labour supply resulting from elevated net migration. In the long-term, increasing labour supply constraints arising from an ageing population is anticipated to result in higher productivity growth.

The employment forecasts are based on GDP growth and other macroeconomic forecasts and productivity assumptions at the industry level, and are indicative of the likely growth path of employment. Because a top-down macroeconomic approach was used to forecast employment changes by industry, care should also be taken when interpreting specific industry employment forecasts.

The employment outlook to 2026 informs the Ministry’s medium-long term policy advice on immigration policy settings and decisions on tertiary education and industry training funding priorities. The Occupation Outlook 2018, used by high school students in making career choices, also refers to the employment outlook.

  • 47,000 more workers on average each year to 2026. Employment is forecast to grow by 1.8 per cent annually, adding about 47,000 workers on average per year to the workforce in the 10 years to 2026.
  • Strong economic growth supports this employment growth — average annual GDP growth of about 3.2 per cent and 2.6 per cent over the 2016-21 and 2021-26 periods, respectively.
  • Business services and Construction are forecast to have the strongest employment gains. These industries are forecast to add 7,600 per year and 5,600 per year, respectively, over the 10 years to 2026.
  • 27,400 average annual increase forecast for highly-skilled occupations.Employment growth will be strongest for highly-skilled occupations, and weakest for lower-skilled occupations (14,000 annually) over the forecast period.


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