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Kiwis less optimistic about labour market in first quarter

Friday 31st March 2017

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 New Zealanders are slightly less optimistic about the state of the labour market, with increased concern about job security and opportunities, according to the latest Westpac McDermott Miller employment confidence survey.

The index fell 2.8 points to 109.9 in the March quarter, while present conditions slipped 2.9 points to 109.4. Employment expectations fell 2.7 points to 110.3. A reading above 100 indicates more optimists outweigh pessimists. 

Expected job opportunities, meanwhile, fell 4.6 points to -9.5 percent while current job opportunities fell 6.4 points to -11.5 percent. People were also less confident about their job security at a net 10.7 percent compared to 14.9 percent in the December quarter. 

However, despite "increased concern around job opportunities, expectations for earnings growth remain resilient," said Westpac Banking Corp senior economist Satish Ranchhod. Workers' expectations for earnings growth rose 0.8 points to a net 29.6 percent of respondents expecting higher wages and past earnings growth rose 0.5 points to a net 30.3 percent. 

The latest jobs data showed New Zealand's unemployment rate rose to 5.2 percent in the three months ended Dec. 31 from a revised 4.9 percent in the September quarter as waves of migrants look for work.

March saw confidence slipping back in most regions with larger declines in areas like the Waikato (where concerns about job openings have increased), and in Taranaki/Manawatu-Whanganui, where job security has declined. Confidence fell 10.2 points in the Waikato to 106.3 percent while it fell 8.7 points in Taranaki/Manawatu-Whanganui, to 104.0. Canterbury bucked the trend, where the index rose 10.1 points to 118.0. 

The survey of 1,555 people was conducted between March 1 and March 11. 

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