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Job market bounces back sooner than expected

New data released by Trade Me suggests that businesses are going on a hiring spree after shedding workers during the lockdown, with over 33,000 vacancies listed on the online marketplace’s jobs board during the quarter ended June 30, 2020.

While the number of new job listings in June was still down by 17.5 per cent compared to the same month last year, this shows significant improvement from May, when new job listings were down 52 per cent year on year, and April, when new job listings were down 72 per cent year on year.

And some sectors actually saw more job vacancies in June than the same time last year, according to Jeremy Wade, head of Trade Me Jobs.

“While hospitality and tourism saw one of the steepest year-on-year drops in job listings in March (-44%) and April (-89%), we actually saw an annual increase in vacancies in June, with job listings up 9 per cent when compared to the year prior,” Wade said.

During the lockdown, many hospitality and tourism businesses were forced to reduce their headcount and freeze hiring to stay afloat.

“However, now that these businesses are able to open for business and Kiwis are taking the opportunity to explore their backyard, employers are having to bolster their teams to keep up with customers,” Wade said.

There are still some challenges ahead, with the end of the Government’s wage subsidy in September expected to hit small businesses particularly hard.

Some sectors are taking a wait-and-see approach, according to Wade.

“Job vacancies in customer service (-55%), architecture (-50%), marketing-media & communications (-59%), and sales (-42%) were still significantly down in June when compared to the year prior,” he said.

For job seekers, competition is at an all-time high. The number of applications on Trade Me Jobs was up 61 per cent in the June quarter compared to the same period last year.

At the same time, there are new expectations around flexible working arrangements. According to Trade Me, the search term “work from home” was used an average of 2000 times per day in the June quarter.

“Lockdown was a big test for both employers and employees to see if working from home was a viable option. For many it worked really well, and some job seekers have decided they prefer it. As a result, employers are going to have to think about how they can accommodate this growing demand for flexible working,” Wade said.

The national average salary remained relatively unchanged from the same quarter last year, with Wellington and Auckland the highest paying districts. Overall, the job market has recovered faster in the regions than the cities.

While these are encouraging signs, Wade remains cautious about the future.

“We don’t yet know how New Zealand’s job market will fare in the long-term. The return to normality after lockdown led to a jump in listing numbers, however, this may not be sustainable in the long run,” he said.

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