Job vacancies surge past pre-Covid levels

For the third month in a row, the latest SEEK NZ Employment Report shows a record-breaking number of jobs advertised on seek.co.nz.

Job ads increased by 5 per cent month-on-month and are almost triple the volume
that they were this time last year with job listings reaching just under 32,000.

“It’s not enough to say job advertising has fully recovered,” said BNZ economist Craig Ebert. “It is now exceptionally strong.”

This was true of the seasonally adjusted index, and the (smoother) trend measure, with both marking levels more than 20 per cent north of respective pre-Covid high-points, he said.

“May 2020 was the beginning of our long Covid-19 recovery, as New Zealand moved from alert level 3 to alert level 2,” said Janet Faulding, general manager, SEEK NZ.

“One year on, we have record-high job ad numbers on seek.co.nz but there is a notable decrease in applications per job ad.”

The numbers applying for each job fell 11 per cent (month-on-month) for the second month in a row.

“There are several factors behind this decline, including the need for job stability. Employed Kiwis are prioritising job security and remain uncertain about moving to a new job at this time,” Faulding said.

SEEK job ads were up by 193 per cent in May 2021 when compared to May 2020 (y/y).

But more significantly, were up 24 per cent when compared to May 2019.

Closed borders and restriction on migrant workers have been a key driver of labour shortages in many sectors.

The three industries contributing the greatest volume increase to job ad growth (m/m) were education & training, engineering and mining, resources & energy.

“A jump in hospitality & tourism ads back in April – seemingly related to the start of the two-way transtasman travel bubble – didn’t kick on in May,” said BNZ’s Ebert.

“However, in holding stable they remained significantly higher they were in 2019.”

Banking & financial services, community services & development, government & defence, real estate & property showed a similar pattern.

Meanwhile there was a big spurt in mining, resources & energy during May.

The only industry clearly failing to surpass previous highs was accounting, he said.

The three major regions, Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury, each experienced an increase in job ads (month on month).

But “once again it was the smaller regions posting some of strongest levels in historical context”, Ebert said.

“Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne stood out in this respect, although the much higher-populated Bay of Plenty was now a fast follower.

“Canterbury, however, was lagging the national trends, albeit with advertising there still up close to its pre-Covid highs.”

• ASX listed SEEK is New Zealand’s most visited job site. The Seek Jobs Report is based on its SEEK New Job Ad Index, which measures only new job ads posted within the reported month to provide a clean measure of demand for labour across all classifications.

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