Friday, 30 June 2017

MBIE's slick new collection of data

I'd headed over to MBIE's website to see if that inquiry into petrol stations had come out yet - it hadn't - but by happy accident I found that MBIE had come out with something else, its new Labour Market Dashboard. The announcement is here and the thing itself here.

It's a pretty impressive effort at gathering and displaying a variety of labour market data into the one spot. Here's just one interesting graph as a sampler: it shows the different ways companies recruit (there's another one showing it by firm size rather than by industry). It's in the 'Workplace' section, below the health and safety graphs.

Isn't it fascinating? Top of the list is 'Word of mouth', which in a small, informal, high-trust economy doesn't surprise me at all. And as in so many other areas, the internet has changed everything - TradeMe and Seek are now more commonly used than the traditional print job ads. Plus there's a useful self-help lesson here too: 'Candidate approaching us' is the fourth most common way jobs get filled.

I've wondered for a while whether we're any good at 'active labour market policies', programmes designed to make the labour market match up people better, usually with a focus on getting unemployed people back into the game. I'm leaning towards the view that we aren't, and the low prevalence of jobs sourced through Work & Income rather points that way. Not that other potential allies in the fight show up much better: on this showing, there are few school or university offices getting on the blower to employers and saying, "Listen, I've got this student who'd be just the right person for you".

I don't know who did the donkey work on the software, but it's pretty slick. I especially liked the automatic rescaling of the Y axis when you replace one X variable with another, which might be small beer to you pro dataviz types but wowed me (if there's a way to do it in Excel, I've not found it). And yes, whoever the uncredited developer is, I did notice your 'mbienz.shinyapps' heading for the site.

MBIE is looking for feedback. I've suggested the site could carry the unionisation data that the HLFS is now picking up, and I've just also had the thought it would be interesting to see the distribution of people on the minimum wage. You'll have your own ideas: why not help out this useful source and get in touch, the e-mail address is

Just  noticed that this is the second nice thing I've written about MBIE this week. We'll be picking out curtains next.


  1. The automatic rescaling of the axes is just something Highcharts (the tool used for the graphs) does out of the box:

    1. Thanks for the reference - I'll have a look

  2. great work MBIE!

  3. Thanks for the heads up. And I agree on the active labour market policy progs. There are early signs but generally well behind the OECD on this in terms of investment and activity. And unlikely to change in the current labour market..?


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