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Jobs market likely to see big changes in the coming months

Q1 job market update.

6 April 2022

The New Zealand jobs market saw an all-time high number of vacancies at the start of the year, according to the analysis of 81,984 vacancies listed on Trade Me Jobs for the quarter ending 31 March (Q1).

Trade Me Jobs Sales Director, Matt Tolich, said the record-high number of listings marked a 15 per cent year-on-year jump, and an 18 per cent increase when compared with the last quarter of 2021 (October-December). “If we look back to the pre-Covid era in Q1 2019, job listings last quarter increased by 16 per cent, showing the market is running hotter than ever before.”

Mr Tolich said a number of regions had record-breaking listings in Q1. “Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Manawatū/Whanganui, Marlborough, Nelson/Tasman, Northland, Otago, Southland, Taranaki and Waikato all saw the highest number of job vacancies ever in the first quarter of this year.”

Looking around the country, Mr Tolich said in Q1 the regions continued to carry the market, as we saw throughout 2021. “The star of the show was the Northland region, where we saw a whopping 34 per cent increase in job listings when compared with the same period last year.

Top five regions that saw the largest percentage increase in listings - Q1 2021 vs Q1 2022
RegionQ1 2021 vs Q1 2022 (YoY change)
NorthlandNorthland+34%+34%
West CoastWest Coast+29%+29%
MarlboroughMarlborough+29%+29%
CanterburyCanterbury+26%+26%
TaranakiTaranaki+24%+24%

“Marlborough and the West Coast were not far behind with a 29 per cent year-on-year increase in job listings, while Canterbury saw a 26 per cent year-on-year jump and Taranaki rose 24 per cent.”

Mr Tolich said Wellington and Auckland saw comparatively small percentage increases in listings of 6 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.

Record high salaries seen in a number of regions

Mr Tolich said every region saw an increase in average salary when compared with Q1 in the year prior, with the largest increases seen in Hawke’s Bay and Waikato, both up by 7 per cent year-on-year. “Bay of Plenty ($64,413), Canterbury ($63,282), Gisborne ($63,896) and Marlborough ($61,071), all saw record high salaries in Q1.”

The highest average salary around the country was seen in the Wellington City district with an average pay of $81,280 (up 4 per cent year-on-year) closely followed by Auckland City with an average salary of $79,641 also (up 3 per cent year-on-year).

Nationwide, the average salary increased by 4 per cent year-on-year in Q1, to $65,799. “This marks a small drop when compared with the previous quarter, when the national average salary was $66,949 “

IT roles continued to dominate the highest paid list with the top eight largest average salaries seen in the category

Mr Tolich said the agriculture, fishing & forestry and construction & roading sectors saw the biggest year-on-year increase in average salary last quarter, both up 8 per cent year-on-year. “Trades & services and automotive saw 7 per cent increase in the average salaries year-on-year in Q1.”

Jobs market to see big changes in the coming months

Looking ahead to the rest of the year, Mr Tolich said job seekers’ are still in the driver’s seat, but it’s likely changes are ahead. “We’ve said previously that 2021 was the year of the job hunter and this still looks to be the case. In saying that, it’s a complicated market with many factors at play.

“A survey we conducted in February, where we spoke with 2,198 Kiwi job hunters, found that nearly sixty per cent of Kiwis are keeping an eye out for a new job, or would be open to a role if the opportunity came up. This makes it a challenging time for employers to retain talent in a competitive market.”

Mr Tolich said we’re likely to see a significant number of migrants enter the country when the borders open up this year, which will shake up the talent-short jobs market.

“The flipside of this will be the large number of Kiwis that have been holding off on their big OE for the past couple of years finally packing up and heading overseas. 34 per cent of respondents said they would consider relocating overseas for a new role, which is up markedly on last year when 24 per cent said they would head offshore for a job.”

Mr Tolich said open borders, paired with the loosening of Government Covid restrictions over the next few months will also see a number of sectors, particularly hospitality and tourism, pick up. “Attracting and retaining talent will be essential for businesses looking to make the most of the inevitable influx of holidaymakers entering the country.”

Listings increase across most sectors

Mr Tolich said breaking down the data by sector showed Covid continued to send waves through the market in the first three months of the year. “Customer service roles saw a whopping 51 per cent increase in Q1 when compared with the same period in 2021, which likely comes down to organisations bolstering their teams to manage supply chain challenges.

“The other largest jumps in job listings were seen in manufacturing and operations (up 35%) and transport and logistics (up 29%), as a result of supply chain demand increasing as Omicron entered the country.”

A number of other sectors also saw job listings skyrocket as a result of the pandemic. “With the healthcare sector under pressure from Omicron in Q1, we saw listings in the sector increase by 25 per cent year-on-year.

“As Kiwis started to return to the office for the New Year, we saw office & admin roles increase by 24 per cent year-on-year.”

Mr Tolich said legal (-43%) architecture (-27%), property (-7%), executive & general management (-4%), and government & council (-3%), were the only sectors that didn’t see a year-on-year increase in listings in Q1.