Employement confidence around New Zealand may have waned
slightly after four quarters of improvement, but business
sentiment has been described as ''soaring''.
ANZ's latest business outlook showed business confidence had
risen to the highest level seen since March 1999, with 54% of
respondents expecting better times ahead.
Firms were ''extremely upbeat'' about their own prospects,
profit expectations had hit a 14-year high, employment and
general investment intentions remained ''rock solid'',
residential and commercial construction intentions remained
high, and investment in livestock had risen to the highest
reading since August 1993, ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie
Improving business sentiment had been shared across all
regions and the urban areas were ''leading the charge'', he
In Otago, employment confidence dropped to 99 points in
September, down 3.2 on the 102.1 recorded in the June survey
put out by Westpac McDermott Miller.
In contrast, Southland jumped 7.2 points from 98.4 to 105.6.
A reading below 100 means more pessimists than optimists.
It seemed reasonable to attribute the sharp rise in
confidence in Southland to the recent rescue deal for the
Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, Westpac senior economist
Michael Gordon said.
Overall, the confidence index fell to a mildly optimistic
102.8, down 1.4 from the June figure.
While it was still the second-highest reading of the past two
years, it underscored the slow and halting pace of
improvement in the labour market in the years since the
recession ended, Mr Gordon said.
There was a sense that the improvement was accruing more to
those already in work than to those seeking it.
Wage growth and job security had seen the biggest lifts from
their post-recession lows, but job opportunities were still
perceived as slim, he said.
Although business surveys had shown a pick-up in hiring
intentions this year, neither job advertisements, official
employment figures, nor the employment confidence index
suggested those intentions were turning strongly into action
Canterbury reclaimed the top spot for employment confidence,
having been briefly overtaken by Waikato in the June quarter
as drought concerns eased.
However, employment confidence in Canterbury remained well
below pre-recession levels and was not markedly different
from the national average in terms of reported wage growth or
expected job opportunities.