As the number of unemployed in Waikato continues to rise, new job vacancies are attracting hundreds of jobseekers. Jonathan Carson reports.
New businesses opening in Hamilton are being flooded with hundreds of job applications as competition for work heats up in the city.
Latest figures show the number of Waikato people on the unemployment benefit increased 33 per cent between September and December last year to 3699 - 65.9 per cent more than in December 2008.
Those numbers have dropped since December as students returned to their tertiary studies, but Ministry of Social Development Waikato business development manager Jocelyn Mikaere said the job market was "very competitive".
Earthquake Commission national customer and claims manager Gail Kettle said 1013 people had applied for 120 jobs at the Hamilton office since it opened last year.
Burger chain Wendy's had more than 100 applications for six management positions and chief executive Danielle Lendich said she expected more than 500 people to apply for 50 minimum-wage crew jobs.
And The Mexico Group general manager Nick McCaw said about 200 people had applied for 25 to 30 jobs at his restaurant, Mexico, which is expected to open in Hamilton early next month.
"The opportunities are starting to flow," Mrs Mikaere said.
"So as those opportunities flow, we're starting to see more jobs coming up. But it's a very competitive job market out there still."
Despite some new jobs being created,Waikato Times readers on Facebook said trying to find work in the region was "bloody horrible", "slow and painful" and "almost impossible".
Wiremu Bayliss said he had applied for more than 60 jobs since October and had had only two interviews.
Another person said they had applied for almost 200 positions before finding work.
However, Mrs Mikaere said work brokers were moving more people off the unemployment benefit and into work as "more and more little opportunities" arose.
She said you only had to look at the Hamilton skyline, at the cranes working on construction projects, to see that the job market appeared to be improving.
But she said the high New Zealand dollar and the downstream effects of the drought, which economists are warning could cost the country $2 billion, may have an impact on jobs.
There were 810 Waikato jobs listed on Trade Me on Friday- a 3 per cent increase on the same time last year - and 783 on job-search website Seek.
Employers and Manufacturers Association Waikato chairman Jack Ninnes said there was "an air of positiveness" in the manufacturing marketplace.
"There are certainly businesses that are looking at taking on new staff," he said.
"There seems to be a buoyant attitude in the market at the moment."
"If that continues on, that will lead to more employment opportunities."
The hard road to finding a job, page 3
- © Fairfax NZ News
Do you think four new schools in Hamilton's northeast is 'excessive'?Related story: Principals say four new Hamilton schools unnecessary