What is happening in the New Zealand Job Market?

Labour Market News and Trends

Job seekers can improve their chances of finding work by following the latest developments on the job market and taking appropriate action:

  • relocating to an area experiencing high employment growth, such as Canterbury or Auckland
  • continuing their education or doing further training to enhance their skills
  • choosing a career with better-than-average employment prospects, such as one of those on Immigration New Zealand’s Skill Shortage Lists.


What is happening on the New Zealand employment market?

Strong employment growth is still expected in the construction & utility industries, along with the hospitality, wholesale & retail trade and business service industries. 

Growth in demand for employment in highly skilled occupations (mostly managers and professionals) will be higher than overall employment growth.

Highly skilled occupations made up 42 per cent of the overall employment share in 2015 and this is forecast to rise to 43.2 per cent by 2019.



Job Growth in New Zealand by Region

Auckland - Industry: Design & Architecture - Job: Architecture - Job Growth: 113%

Wellington - Industry: Construction - Job: Foreperson/Supervisor - Job Growth: 130%

Christchurch - Industry: Technology - Job: Testing and Quality Assurance - Job Growth: 70%

Source: SEEK Job Growth Report, published February 2016


Salary and Job Trends in 2016 - The fastest moving jobs in New Zealand by Industry  

Government & Defence - Job Growth: 245% - Average Salary $89,096 - Salary Growth: +11.6%

Banking & Financial Services - Job Growth: 130% - Average Salary $66,265 - Salary Growth: -12.2%

Design & Architecture (Urban Design & Planning) - Job Growth: 116% - Average Salary $87,414 - Salary Growth: -4.1%

Design & Architecture (Interior Design)- Job Growth: 101% - Average Salary $64,027 - Salary Growth: +8.3%

Real Estate & Property (Valuation)- Job Growth: 98% - Average Salary $101,623 - Salary Growth: +20.4%

Source: SEEK Career Advice  


The Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment, MBIE, Reports

MBIE publishes comprehensive reports, drawing on the latest data, to paint a summary of labour market trends.

If you are looking for a job in New Zealand and want to find out what your chances in the New Zealand job market are, this report will give you some valuable up-to-date insight.

The monthly report measures changes in job vacancies advertised on three internet job boards – SEEK, Trade Me Jobs and the Education Gazette.


Latest Jobs Online report released in June 2016

Findings from the latest report show that, over the month to 31 May 2016:

  • Online vacancies increased by 2.4 per cent over all.
  • Vacancies increased in all industry groups. The main contributors were hospitality and tourism (up 1.9 per cent) and education and training (up 1.7 per cent).
  • Vacancies increased in all occupation groups. The largest increases were for machinery drivers and operators (up 3.6 per cent), labourers (up 3.4 per cent), and technicians and trades (up 3.1 per cent).
  • Vacancies increased in all ten regions. The Bay of Plenty region saw the strongest growth (up 3.0 per cent).


MBIE Jobs Online Report released in February 2016:

Findings from the latest report show that, over the month to 31 January 2016:
• Online vacancies increased by 1.5 per cent over all.
• Vacancies increased in all industry groups. The largest increases were in the hospitality and tourism industry (up 1.9 percent) and information technology (up 1.4 per cent).
• Vacancies increased in all occupation groups. The largest increases were for technical and trade workers (up 2.4 per cent), followed by clerical and administration, and machinery drivers (both up 1.7 per cent).
• Vacancies increased in all skill levels. Vacancies for low skilled jobs had the biggest increase (up 2.3 per cent), followed by semi-skilled job vacancies (up 2.1 per cent).
• Vacancies increased in nine out of ten regions. Auckland vacancies grew by 1.6 per cent, and Wellington vacancies grew by 1.5 per cent. Vacancies in the Manawatu-Wanganui/Taranaki region showed no change.


The Labour Market Scorecard

The labour market scorecard is a quarterly update of key labour market statistics and indicators, published by MBIE, which provides an overall view of the state of the labour market.

Labour demand: Moderate, with employment growth weakening.
Employment decreased by 11,000 (0.4 per cent) between the June and September quarters, but increased by 34,000 (1.5 per cent) over the year.
Full-time employment increased by 0.2 per cent over the quarter, while part-time employment fell by 4.1 per cent.
At an industry level, the largest annual increase was in construction employment (up 20,500), accounting for almost two-thirds of total growth. This growth was strongest in Auckland (up 14,700), consistent with increased building activity in that region

Labour supply: Steady as strong population growth, driven by record migration, partially offset by a sharp fall in the participation rate.
In the year ending September 2015, New Zealand had a net gain of 61,200 migrants, the largest increase on record. The annual gain in migrants has been setting new records for 14 consecutive months.
The labour force participation rate fell 0.7 percentage points over the quarter to 68.6 per cent, but remains high by historical standards.
Growth in the labour force has not kept up with strong growth in the working-age population. This is particularly noticeable in Auckland, which saw its working-age population increase by 36,800 over the year, and a 23,700 increase in those not in the labour force.

November 2015: Current state of the labour market: Strong
The overall state of the labour market remains robust, although momentum is slowing. Manufacturing has overtaken construction as the main source of employment growth. Strong, migration-led, population growth is ensuring this labour demand can be met, but is also placing upwards pressure on the unemployment rate.

May 2015: Current state of the labour market: Strong
The overall state of the labour market remains robust. Indicators of economic activity are at historically elevated levels, and this is reflected in increased labour demand. Both net migration and labour force participation are at record levels, leading to an expanding labour supply. The unemployment rate remained unchanged over the quarter.


Changes to the Canterbury Skill Shortage List

The Skill Shortage Review Team at Immigration New Zealand has just announced the following changes to the Canterbury Skill Shortage List (CSSL) with effect from 14 December 2015:

a) Removing Painting Trades Worker and Upholsterer because they are no longer in shortage

b) Removing Electrician and Quantity Surveyor because demand for these occupations in Canterbury has reduced. These occupations are also on the Long Term or Immediate Skill Shortage Lists and migrants can use that route to apply for a work visa.

c) Adding “including at least 12 months’ relevant work experience in New Zealand” to the CSSL requirements for nine occupations to facilitate further work visas for those already in Canterbury, but not for overseas workers – Bricklayer, Drainlayer, Fibrous Plasterer, Floor Finisher, Plumber, Roof Tiler, Solid Plasterer, Stonemason, and Wall and Floor Tiler.

Decisions on the review of occupations on the Long Term and Immediate Skill Shortage Lists are proposed to be announced before Christmas.


General trends and employment outlook to 2016

The unemployment rate is expected to continue tracking down, eventually falling to below 5% by March 2016. 

Demand for people in highly skilled jobs (managers and other professionals) is expected to be high. For lower-skilled workers, job growth is predicted in food processing, retailing, accommodation, agriculture and construction.

According to the Government, the economy will add over 100,000 jobs (4.4% growth) in the years to 2016. 
Particularly strong jobs growth is expected in the Auckland and Canterbury regions and in the construction and utilities industries.

Highly skilled jobs (managers and professionals across a number of areas) will be in consistently high demand, accounting for about 50% of overall employment growth. For lower-skilled workers, most job growth is predicted in food processing, retailing, accommodation, agriculture and construction.

Unemployment lowest in South Island regions 
The regions with the lowest unemployment rates were all in the South Island:

  • Canterbury (3.4%)
  • Tasman/Nelson/Marlborough/West Coast (4.2%)
  • Otago (4.2%).

The regions with the highest unemployment rates were:

  • Bay of Plenty (9.3%)
  • Northland (9%).

The industries that saw the greatest growth in employment were: 

  • Professional, scientific, technical, administrative and support industries (up 10.9%)
  • Retail trade and accommodation (up 6.0%)
  • Health care and social assistance (up 7.1%)
  • Construction (up 8.6%)
  • Manufacturing (up 6.0%).

The industries that saw the greatest declines in employment were: 

  • Public administration and safety (down 5%)
  • Wholesale trade (down 4.3%).

Canterbury rebuild lifting employment

Of the 19,000 jobs created in Canterbury in 2013, most of them were in two industry groups:

  • Construction, which created 7,400 new jobs.
  • Retail trade and accomodation and food services, which created 7,600 new jobs.

The Canterbury rebuild (following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes) is continuing to gather pace as more work moves from design and planning stages to construction.

The rebuild will likely be a major influence on national employment figures until at least 2018. Immigration New Zealand's Canterbury Skill Shortage List highlights occupations in shortage that are needed during the rebuild of Canterbury. 

Ask our Employment Adviser

If you want to find out more about finding a job in New Zealand, contact Katrin Schottke, Employment Adviser at NZIC.

Ask Katrin for a Free Assessment