Job market looking up

JAMES WEIR
Last updated 10:18 31/03/2014

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The job market is looking up, with a survey showing confidence rising in the March quarter, though conditions are still worse than before the recession hit.

More people are also getting a pay rise and more expected a pay rise in the coming year.

The Westpac McDermott Miller Employment Confidence Index rose to 108.4 in the March quarter, from 103.4 in the December 2013 quarter. An index number over 100 indicates that optimists outnumber pessimists.

"After a long delay, the labour market now is joining in the economy's general upturn," said Westpac Chief Economist Dominick Stephens.

"Nevertheless, conditions are still markedly weaker than they were before the recession hit, and workers and jobseekers remain understandably cautious about the pace of improvement."

Households' perceptions of the availability of jobs rose substantially in the March 2014 quarter, and are now the least negative since 2008.

Households' perceptions of job opportunities saw a big gain, rising from a net negative 46.9 per cent to negative 32 per cent. It was the least negative reading since December 2008.

"This is consistent with the lift in surveyed hiring intentions and job advertisements over recent months," said Stephens. Expectations for job opportunities a year from now were unchanged at negative 3.4 per cent.

The March 2014 quarter survey also saw a further lift in the number of workers reporting higher earnings.

Those saying they were getting paid more rose for the seventh quarter in a row to 29.6 per cent- its highest since December 2008.

The net percentage expecting earnings to rise over the coming year rose from 29.3 per cent to 31.1 per cent, broadly unchanged over the last two years.

"While official measures of wage growth have been subdued by comparison, this survey marks out wage inflation as something to watch as the Reserve Bank starts to lean against the build-up of inflation pressures," Stephens said.

The survey was conducted in the first ten days of March, with a sample size of 1,594.

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- Fairfax Media

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