Employment growth remains modest

ANZ Economic Commentary

Job advertising data suggests that while the strongest employment growth is likely behind us now, the labour market still has momentum.

Total job advertising fell 1.1% in January (seasonally adjusted), unwinding half of its 2.2% December lift. The trend in the index is modestly upward.

Nationwide internet job advertising lifted 3.1% in January, while newspaper advertising fell 29.5% but the weakness was exacerbated by how the weeks happened to fall in the month. We expect a significant bounce-back in February.

Total job ads rose in Wellington, but fell in Auckland and Canterbury. In trend terms, Auckland remains the strongest of the main centres, but all three look positive.

Labour supply has also been growing strongly thanks to high migration and an increasing labour force participation rate. We expect the unemployment rate to ease only modestly from current levels (5.7%) over the coming year.

Slower rate

The annual growth in the three-month average of internet job advertising is currently running at 12.2%, down from an April peak of 18% but slightly higher than in December.

The volume of newspaper job advertising fell 29.5% in January.

For the main centres, we have both newspaper and internet advertising. Total job advertising fell 7.6% in Canterbury, but it was off a 13.7% jump in December.

Total ads lifted 3.1% in Wellington, its third consecutive increase; and eased 1.5% in Auckland, its first dip in 6 months. Auckland continues to have the strongest job ads trend of the main centres, while Wellington is lagging.

Newspaper ads down

We have only newspaper job advertising data for the regions. It fell in all regions, but as noted, we are downplaying the January data.

Nationally, the job ad data remains consistent with on-going modest employment growth. With labour supply also rising strongly, courtesy of migration and high labour force participation, we forecast the unemployment rate to ease only modestly from current levels over the next year.

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