Hawke’s Bay Job Market Update – March 2010

We continue to receive a lot of mixed signals regarding ongoing employment factors & demands.  What can we expect to see in 2010 for the Hawke’s Bay labour market?

Firstly, we need to understand the national employment market, and what trends are emerging. What has been obvious to all of us has been the impact of the global credit crunch and recession. The Department of Labour indexes national job vacancies, and the graph below highlights the impact the recession has had on job vacancies (sharply declining from a high in April 2007). Since August 2009 we have started to see improving job vacancy volumes at a national level (positive signs).

SVI Graph

There has been a 5% nationwide increase in skilled job advertising in the last quarter of 2009(1), with this trend continuing into the first quarter of 2010. Overall business confidence has stabilised nationwide, with a net 23% of companies expecting improvement in the next 6 months(2). National commentators are certainly not expecting a boom 2010 year (the NZ economy is tipped to grow by around 1.8% this year(3)). Rather it will be a year of cautious optimism and controlled growth over the low points seen prior.

One of the more basic but effective measures in reviewing local employment demand can be drawn by analysing SEEK volumes, as it remains a key NZ job portal for those organisations looking to actively recruit new staff.

SEEK Graph

In reviewing 2008 & 2009 side-by-side we see Hawke’s Bay job volumes have been down roughly 25% from February through to October on prior year. This is a lot lower than the national median reported by SEEK, Trade Me Jobs & APN – all at approximately a 50% drop in advertising volumes from November 2008 through until August 2009, when all have reported recovery (at varying levels). So, Hawke’s Bay has in part been sheltered from the full force of the global recession (reinforced by anecdotal conversations with many businesses & locals in Hawke’s Bay) – again positive news.

So what can we expect to see for 2010 in Hawke’s Bay employment market? Whilst we all wish we had a crystal ball for this year (and beyond), here are some of our thoughts:

  • Both active and “below the radar” employment activities are on the rise. People with good experience and relevant skills remain sought after, especially in the Health, Sciences, Engineering, ICT, Accounting, Media & Advertising, and Infrastructure sectors. We also see more activity in the Finance & Banking sectors after a quiet 2009.
  • High calibre jobseekers continue to be drawn to the Hawke’s Bay. Many are ex-pats returning from off-shore (which have helped boost the property market), as well as those in the larger centres seeking the lifestyle opportunity afforded to us locally.
  • Many actively advertised roles in 2009 were back-fill or contract cover opportunities. In 2010 we are likely to see more newly created positions, as businesses seek to return to growth mode.
  • Employers remain focused on skills & cultural fit, with industry experience and a proven track record continuing to be emphasised.
  • Re-engaging demoralised and disengaged employees will be a factor for many organisations. With more opportunities becoming available in the employment market there will be an emphasis on retaining good staff. Recent workplace surveys have shown that between 42% – 60% of employees are looking to leave their existing employer given the right opportunity(4)!
  • The larger metropolitan recruitment markets are reporting recovery at a faster pace than we are (the bigger the drop the bigger the bounce). Auckland has seen a 30% increase in February over January. Hawke’s Bay has definitely gotten off to a slower start than other parts of New Zealand, but expect us to catch up!

In summary, the Hawke’s Bay job market remains in a stable & improving condition. This stability, matched with the outstanding lifestyle opportunity, see Hawke’s Bay remain as a highly desirable location for many.

(1)Department of Labour Jobs Online 2009/2010
(2)NZIER Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion
(3)Economic & Risk Outlook – Dun & Bradstreet
(4)Various portal and company surveys


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