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A perfect storm puts job hunters in the driver's seat

It's a job hunters' market right now with more jobs, fewer applications, and a bump in average pay.

8 July 2021

With a record number of job vacancies onsite, a bump in average pay, and a dip in applications - it’s a job hunters’ market, according to the analysis of over 80,000 vacancies listed on Trade Me Jobs. 

Trade Me Jobs Sales Director Matt Tolich said it’s never been a better time for job hunters to make a move with a record number of job vacancies advertised on the site. “Following on from a strong start to the year, we saw the highest number of jobs ever advertised on Trade Me in the quarter ending 30 June. 

“Nationwide, the number of job listings onsite increased by 25 per cent in the second quarter of 2021 (Q2) when compared with the same period in 2019, prior to Covid-19. The largest increases were in the hospitality & tourism (56%), manufacturing & operations (52%), and construction & roading (46%) sectors.”

Sectors that saw the biggest % increases in Q2 (* = record high number of listings in Q2)
SectorYear-on-year % change Q2 2021 vs Q2 2019
Hospitality & tourismHospitality & tourism+56%*+56%*
Manufacturing & operationsManufacturing & operations+52%*+52%*
Construction & roadingConstruction & roading+46%*+46%*
Transport & logisticsTransport & logistics+40%*+40%*
Trades & servicesTrades & services+37%+37%

Reflecting the national trend, Mr Tolich said a number of sectors also saw a record number of job vacancies. “The agriculture, fishing & forestry, automotive, construction & roading, education, hospitality & tourism, manufacturing & operations, retail, trades & services, and transport & logistics sectors, all saw more job listings than ever before in Q2.” 

Mr Tolich said listing numbers do not look to be slowing down. “Last month we saw a whopping 43 per cent increase in job listings compared with June last year, when we had just emerged from the nationwide lockdown. This shows just how strong, and quickly, the job market has bounced back.” 

Applications, on the other hand, did not keep up, which Mr Tolich puts down to a number of factors. “In Q2, we saw a 29 per cent drop in the number of applications for jobs when compared with the first quarter of the year. 

“We’re still seeing a massive candidate shortage in the market with the absence of migrant workers. The fact is, right now there are not enough people in New Zealand to fulfil demand in a large number of job categories and this is constraining the ability of kiwi business to grow.

“On top of this, Kiwis appear to be sticking it out in their current roles until our borders are open, and the world begins to return to normal. We know that job security is highly important to employees at the moment. In a recent survey we conducted with 1,400 Kiwis, just 17 per cent said they were looking to move roles in the next 12 months. That’s down from 27 per cent in 2020.

Employers put their money where their mouth is

Mr Tolich said as a result employers were willing to put more money on the table to lure and secure the talent they want. 

“With application numbers down and more listings for job hunters to choose from, in Q2 we saw the largest annual percentage increase in average pay that we have seen in more than 10 years. When compared with the same quarter last year, the average pay increased by 3 per cent, to $64,939. The last time we saw an annual increase this large was in Q1, 2011. 

“It really is the perfect storm, and job seekers are well and truly in the driver's seat. It’s a great time to be looking for a new role.”

IT sector continues pay the most

Mr Tolich said all five of the highest paying roles in Q2 were in the IT sector. “As we have seen consistently over the previous year, IT roles are still paid the most. This comes down to companies bolstering their tech approach to keep up with competitors and protect their businesses in a post-Covid world. 

“On top of this, closed borders are putting pressure on the sector by preventing new talent from entering the country to meet the sector's growing needs.” 

Mr Tolich said the biggest pay growth in Q2 when compared with the same period in 2019 was seen in the retail and tourism & hospitality sectors which both saw the average wage increase 12 per cent to$53,071 and $52,960 respectively. “This is a result of the minimum wage increase, as well as the shortage of migrants forcing kiwi businesses to pay more for New Zealander workers.” 

Mr Tolich added that the main centres continued to be the highest paid area in the country. “Wellington City took out the number one spot, with an average pay of $76,102 while Auckland City came in close second with an average pay of $74,282.”

Regions carry the quarter while main centres lag behind

Mr Tolich said the job market in regional New Zealand were the winners of Q2. “As we also saw in Q1, the regions saw some incredible growth in the second quarter of the year while the main centres lagged behind.” 

Mr Tolich said this was evident in Bay Of Plenty, Manawatū/Whanganui, Northland, Otago, Taranaki, and Waikato all seeing a record breaking number of job vacancies in Q2. “When compared with Q2 2019, the largest increases in job listings were seen in the Nelson/Tasman (58%), Hawke’s Bay (58%), and Gisborne (57%) regions, which are all heavily reliant on backpackers and migrant workers to fill seasonal, and tourism related roles.” 

By comparison, Mr Tolich said Wellington saw a 17 per cent increase in listings when compared with Q2 2019, while Auckland saw an increase of 13 per cent. “Being the primary gateway to New Zealand, the Auckland job market has been impacted the most by our borders being closed and the lack of tourists, so it’s not too surprising that Auckland saw the smallest listing growth.”