Job market confidence picks up

JAMES WEIR
Last updated 10:13 30/06/2014

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The job market is picking up, with employment confidence up to its highest levels since late 2008, and Auckland is the most upbeat region according to a bank survey.

The Westpac McDermott Miller Employment Confidence Index rose to 109.9 in the June 2014 quarter, from 108.4 in the March quarter. An index number over 100 indicates that optimists outnumber pessimists.

"While the economy has been gradually accelerating for a few years now, it's only more recently that New Zealanders have observed a sustained pickup in the jobs market," said Westpac Chief Economist Dominick Stephens.

In the March quarter, another 22,000 people moved into work, according to Statistics NZ figures but the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at 6 per cent.

"The June quarter survey suggests that the labour market has continued to improve."

Employment confidence was net positive for 10 out of 11 regions in the June quarter. "Auckland has now overtaken Canterbury as the most confident region," said Mr Stephens.

"Auckland's unemployment rate deteriorated by more than the rest of the country during the recession, and has been slow to improve since then. In that light, the latest survey suggests that the region's jobs market is no longer underperforming."

The survey was carried out in the first ten days of the month, involving more than 1500 people.

Households' perceptions of current job opportunities were the biggest contributor to the rise in the index, rising from a net -32.0 per cent to -26.5 per cent. This was the least negative reading since December 2008.

Respondents' expectations for their own job security rose from a net 16.8 per cent  to 17.6 per cent, the highest since September 2009.

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