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The ANZ Job Ads series is suggesting the New Zealand labour market remains fairly strong and it is a question of when, not if, this flows into an acceleration in wage growth.
ANZ senior economist Sharon Zollner said yesterday job advertisements increased for the third consecutive month in April and appeared to have an accelerating upward trend. Internet job advertising rose 2.9% in April and newspaper advertising, which was much more volatile, fell 12.7% and remained on a downward trend.
The regions were experiencing a convergence and job advertisements growth in Hawke's Bay continued to recede to more sustainable rates after a huge surge and growth elsewhere improved, she said.‘‘Job ads are higher than a year ago everywhere except Canterbury, with Auckland leading with double-digit growth.''Job advertisements in Otago, as measured by the Otago Daily Times, were up 6.8% annually, Waikato advertisements were up 4.7% and in Manawatu were up 1.6%.
Surveys of New Zealand businesses showed they had a positive view of their own prospects. The job advertisements data indicated those positive expectations were translating into a willingness to hire and grow, Ms Zollner said.
In a separate release, the ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence Index showed sentiment eased in May although it remained elevated.
The index fell four points in May to 116.2 which ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie said was still ‘‘in the groove''.
More consumers still felt better off financially than not, although by a smaller majority.
A net 34% believed it was a good time to buy a major household item, down four points from April.
The forward-looking indicators all eased slightly. The short-term economic outlook eased from nine to six and the longer-term optimism outlook was down from 28 to 23.
Wellington was the most optimistic and the least-confident consumers were in the South Island outside Canterbury. ‘‘Once again, we are left with an impression of consumers in a good mood. When you have an economy showing generally good vigour, that's of little surprise.''House prices were moving up and employment growth was strong. Income and wealth were on the rise, he said.
Typically, that combination would be accentuating more positivity. However, it seemed to have been tempered in the month by rising petrol prices and rising tensions over an accelerating property market.
Interest rates presented the same dichotomy: lower interest rates were good for borrowers but not for savers. Those close to retirement would be re-evaluating future work and leisure plans, Mr Bagrie said.
‘‘Our confidence composite, which combines both consumer and business sentiment, continues to flag good times remain ahead.''