January 14 2010 - The current jobs outlook is better than at any time over the last two years,
but job security remains fragile as the New Zealand economy begins to come out of recession, according to Westpac Bank.
Senior Westpac economist Donna Purdue said the jobs market "has reached the trough and is beginning to
claw its way back" as the December quarter Westpac McDermott Miller Employment Confidence Index was released,
But the bank considers that growth in available workers will outstrip growth in jobs until
the middle of 2010 and that unemployment will increase from the present 6.5% to
peak soon at 6.7% of the workforce.
New Zealand went into recession ahead of the 2008 global financial crisis and the Current Conditions
Index has turned up for the first time since September 2007. However, at 77.8, the index continues to show a pessimistic
mood about the immediate future.
More optimistically, the Expectations Index (testing views about job conditions in a year's time)
is close to the highest levels seen since 2004, at an index reading of 122. A net 16.6% of people surveyed said they expect job
opportunities to be plentiful this time next year, up from the net 14.4% with that opinion in September.
New Zealanders are also optimistic about wages with a net 36.2% of respondenst saying they expect to be earning more
in a year's time, up from 34% in September.
While seven of 11 regions surveyed were positive about jobs growth in a year's time, declining confidence
was recorded in Waikato, Gisborne/Hawke's Bay, Taranaki/Manawatu/Wellington, and Nelson/Marlborough/West Coast.
The survey found that employees in the private sector were considerably more confident about job prospects and security than workers
employed in the public sector.