Job outlook optimism improves

REBECCA STEVENSON
Last updated 10:31 01/07/2013

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Job outlook optimism among New Zealand households continues to improve according to the latest Westpac McDermott Miller Employment Confidence Index.

It rose to 104.2 in the June quarter up from 100.7 in the March quarter, a level not seen since September 2011. An index number above 100 indicates optimists outnumber pessimists.

The survey was conducted in early June and had a sample size of 1568, Westpac said.

Households' perceptions of job opportunities improved for the third time running, with a net 48.6 per cent saying that jobs were hard to get.

This is "the least downbeat since June 2010", the bank said.

"However, the survey doesn't suggest the labour market is off to the races - a slow uphill climb is a better characterisation," senior economist Felix Delbruck said.

"In particular, perceived job opportunities and reported wage growth remain very low by pre-recession standards."

Employment confidence slipped in Canterbury and Auckland but was still positive.

Six of 11 regions were now optimistic on balance (confidence above 100) including Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Otago.

Pessimists "just" outnumbered optimists in terms of expecting job opportunities over the coming year while respondents' expectations for their own job security were more positive and rose to a net 13.9 per cent optimistic.

The net percentage reporting rising earnings rose for the fourth quarter in a row to 26.1 per cent, still well below the pre-2009 average of 37.4 per cent.

The net percentage expecting earnings to rise further over the coming year slipped back for the second quarter in a row, to 29.9 per cent.

Delbruck said the finding was in line with other indicators that what had been holding the New Zealand labour market recovery back in the last couple of years hadn't been job losses but employers' reluctance to hire.

FFX/rs cp

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