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NZ government workers are gloomiest in at least 6 years

Monday 2nd July 2012

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New Zealand government workers are the gloomiest about their own job security in at least six years, leading the fourth straight quarterly decline in the Westpac McDermott Miller Employment Confidence index.

The index fell to 96.2 in the April-June quarter, from 98.9 three months earlier, the survey shows. Readings below 100 mean pessimists outnumber optimists.

The Public Sector Employment Confidence Index sank 3.8 points to 89.7, the lowest since the public sector measure was started in March 2006. By contrast, private sector employees remain optimistic, even with a 1.1 point drop to 100.5, still the lowest reading since June 2009.

A net 69 percent of public servants considered jobs were hard to get in the latest quarter and a net 24 percent thought it would get even harder to find a job in the year ahead. Gloom in the state sector comes as the government keeps a lid on new spending, merges departments and curbs new hiring in an effort to return to budget surplus by 2015.

“Public sector employees are caught in an ongoing process of public sector restructuring and job losses,” said Richard Miller, director of strategy planning consultancy at McDermott Miller. “Job security is shaken within their sector while opportunities outside are few and far between.”

The survey was conducted between June 1 and June 10 with a sample size of 1,570 and a margin of error of 2.5 percent.

Overall, a net 61 percent of households say jobs are hard to get currently, while a net 10 percent said they’ll be even harder to get in the year ahead. Just 2 percent of those polled say their job will become more secure in the next 12 months.

Households reporting a wage increase in the past year fell to a net 22 percent, about the same as in 2010, while a net 29 percent expect a pay rise in the next 12 months, the lowest since mid-2009.

“The clear message from today’s survey is that a growing economy isn’t yet translating into an improving labour market,” said Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens. “On today’s evidence we’re also still a way off from seeing a significant increase in wage pressures.”

Stephens said he was surprised at the weak results for Canterbury, given rising demand for work related to reconstruction. Employment confidence in Canterbury fell to 97.6 from 105.2 three months earlier.

Waikato recorded the lowest reading, at 86.3, down from 97.8 while Auckland was unchanged at 100.8 and Wellington improved to 93.1 from 92.8. Nelson/Marlborough/West Coast improved to 100.8 from 97.5 and was one of only two regions with a positive result.

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