New Zealand employment outlook remains upbeat despite softening in key sectors

Employment levels are hopeful despite softening. Image: Markham Review
Employment levels are hopeful despite softening in key sectors. Image: Markham Review

New Zealand’s employment Outlook remains upbeat for the final quarter of 2018, with employers in Wellington and Christchurch leading the way despite some softening of hiring expectations in the key sectors of Mining & Construction and Wholesale & Retail Trade when compared to this same time last year. 

These are the results from the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey for the fourth quarter of 2018, which reports a Net Employment Outlook (NEO) of +15% for New Zealand. This signals that more companies expect to increase staffing levels than not heading into the last quarter of the year. The survey collects data from over 59,000 employers in 44 countries, including over 650 in New Zealand. 

This positive national result is a moderate increase of six percentage points quarter-on-quarter and four percentage points year-on-year. An increase in staffing levels is anticipated across all eight industry sectors and all three regions during the upcoming quarter, although there are a number of notable differences across the country.

The Transportation & Utilities sector has reported the strongest employment Outlook of +28%, a sharp increase of 20 percentage points compared to Q4 2017. This heightened optimism in hiring can also be seen in the Public Administration & Education and Manufacturing sectors, reporting strong year-on-year gains of nine and eight percentage points, respectively.

However, both the Mining & Construction and Wholesale & Retail Trade sectors have reported year-on-year declines of eight percentage points, although Outlooks in both remain in positive territory. The Finance, Insurance & Real Estate sector shows a three-percentage point decrease in comparison to this same quarter last year and is now reporting the most subdued Outlook in two years.

Regionally, the data reveals a sizeable improvement in hiring intentions over the past year among employers in Wellington and Christchurch, with year-on-year gains of ten and seven percentage points, respectively. Employers in Auckland report a steady Net Employment Outlook of +14% for the fourth quarter, a slight decrease of three percentage points quarter-on-quarter and two percentage points year-on-year.

ManpowerGroup New Zealand General Manager Paul Robinson believes the latest data is a reminder of the strength of the labour market and the increasing need for employers to be focused on attracting and retaining the best talent.

“Despite some differences across the country, the latest employment Outlook data is evidence of a favourable hiring climate across New Zealand, “said Mr Robinson.

“In this environment, employers must be mindful that competition for talent is very high and they should ensure they have strategies in place to attract and retain the very best people and skills. This means offering training and development opportunities for employees as well as a flexible career path.”

Large and medium-sized organisations continue to report the most optimistic employment expectations with Net Employment Outlooks of +25%, while micro businesses had the weakest Outlook of just +4%. The strength of hiring intentions by large and medium businesses versus smaller organisations has been a consistent trend since the beginning of 2016.

Elsewhere, the New Zealand Outlook compares favourably to other countries in the region. The Outlook is softer than Japan (+26%), Taiwan (+21%) and Hong Kong (+17%) but stronger than Australia, India and Singapore.