Second fall in job ads index

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Job advertisements fell in December and ANZ chief economist Sharon Zollner said yesterday the bank’s Job Ads series had run out of puff.

The ANZ Job Ads index fell 0.3% in December from November, the second consecutive small fall. Annual growth eased to 6.1%.The number of job ads being placed was still high and both data and anecdotal evidence suggested the labour market was tight.

But the strongest growth in labour demand appeared to be in the past, she said.

"The decline in job ads growth is consistent with our forecasts of a continued moderation in employment growth."

Auckland job ads growth had slowed to a crawl at just 0.4% year-on-year versus a peak of 21% in January last year, Ms Zollner said.

Annual growth in Canterbury and Wellington slowed to 4.8% and 5% respectively.

Only three regions showed a lift in annual growth in December — Bay of Plenty, Otago and Taranaki.

The West Coast was small but mighty. Although its small population had the second-lowest number of job ads, it was enjoying the highest annual growth at 46%, she said.

Southland had 31% annual growth and Otago had 20.8%.

The Job Ads index showed most of the growth was occurring in construction, utilities, manufacturing and transport.

"This isn’t just because of the sector’s size. It is also experiencing the second-strongest quarterly percentage growth."

The sector was only one-sixteenth the size of the agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining sector which was growing more than twice as fast, Ms Zollner said.

The moderation in job ads was not surprising or alarming as the business cycle was well advanced.

"We will be keeping an eye on indicators such as hiring intentions, with near-term risks for the economy tilted downward."

However, the view of the ANZ remained that short of a negative shock, from offshore or from the weather, the economy would successfully navigate any near-term growth wobble, she said.

Wage growth was expected to be higher this year.

Hays New Zealand managing director Jason Walker said the latest Hays Jobs Report, covering from January to June 2018, pointed to strong vacancy activity for digital marketing specialists, cyber security specialists and proven sales professionals.

With labour market data showing unemployment in the September 2017 quarter, the lowest since December 2008, and Hays’ own survey of employers showing 48% would increase permanent staff levels in the financial year to June 2018, the six months ahead looked set to be positive for job seekers.

"Momentum will continue this half with general business confidence and a strong economic environment leading to market growth and associated job creation."

New Government policies would create jobs for policy, communications, administration and finance specialists, and in digital technology.

Digital marketing professionals would be in high demand and planned infrastructure works across the country would result in a civil jobs boom, Mr Walker said.

There would be a need for non-routine workers, a trend reflected in the Hays Jobs Report.

The rapid rise in robotics and automation would create highly skilled roles requiring people with particular knowledge and expertise in non-routine and non-repetitive tasks, he said.

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