Occupational drift in New Zealand: 1976-2018

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The jobs that we do    
are not those of yesterday.    
Each spring, new plants grow.    

We measure the rate of occupational change in New Zealand between 1976 and 2018. We use measures of occupational drift reported by Atkinson and Wu (2017) for the United States and by the Australian Office of the Chief Economist (2018) for Australia. This supports the comparison of occupational change between countries as well as over time. We find that occupational change in New Zealand is broadly similar to that in the US or Australia, and that all three countries experienced a slowing in the rate of occupational change over recent decades.

In New Zealand, occupational change was particularly strong between 1986 and 1991 and was historically low between 2006 and 2013, coinciding with the GFC. Current levels of occupational change are similar to those experienced between 1991 and 2006. Employment growth in professional occupations has been particularly strong, growing from 11% of employment in 1976 to 23% in 2018. There has also been pronounced growth and change in the mix of occupations within the 'community and personal services' occupation group and within 'clerical and administrative' occupations.


DOI: doi.org/10.29310/WP.2019.22


Maré. D. 2019. "Occupational Drift in New Zealand: 1978-2018" Motu Working Paper 19-22, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, Wellington, New Zealand.


New Zealand Productivity Commission, as a research input into its frontier firms inquiry.