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Job hunters take advantage of record salaries

Q4 job market update.

17 January 2023

Kiwi are taking advantage of record high salaries and considering their career options, according to the latest Trade Me Jobs data.

Trade Me Jobs spokesperson, Patrick Cairns, said the average number of job applications per listing increased by 38 per cent year-on-year in the quarter ending 31 December. “Following years of pandemic-fuelled uncertainty in the jobs market, things really turned around in the second half of 2022 with thousands of Kiwi dusting off their CVs and applying for a new role. This will be music to the ears of businesses that have struggled to fill vacancies.”

Mr Cairns said the Q4 application jump marked the second uptick in a row. “In Q3 (July-September 2022) we saw a 9 per cent year-on-year increase in the average number of applications per listing onsite.

"While the Q4 increase marks a significant turning point for the market, it's important to remember that in the last few months of 2021, we were preparing for Omicron to hit our shores and the outlook for the new year was uncertain."

Looking around the country, Mr Cairns said every region saw an increase in applications in Q4 when compared with the same period last year. “Gisborne (+58%), Hawke’s Bay (+56%), West Coast (+53%), and Auckland (+50%) saw the biggest jumps, with applications up more than 50 per cent year-on-year.”

It was the same story across the sectors, with nearly every category seeing applications climb year-on-year. “In our largest sector, trades & services, applications increased by 55 per cent in Q4.”

Mr Cairns said with sky-high salaries and lockdowns becoming a distant memory, Kiwi are making the most of the current market conditions. “With the border open now too, employers around the country are seeing the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. 

“There’s no denying it’s still a competitive market for employers, but with applications on the rise across the board, our data shows it is a great time to be looking for talent. For those businesses that have attempted to hire over the past couple of years but had little success, our numbers show it might be worth trying again in 2023.”

Salaries reach an all-time high

In Q4 the national average salary reached a new all-time high of $67,562. “This marks a 1 per cent, or $613, increase when compared with the same period in 2021.”

National average salary - Q1-Q4 2022
2022 QuarterNational average salaryYear-on-year % change 2022 vs 2021
Q4 (October to December)Q4 (October to December) $67,562  $67,562 +1%+1%
Q3 (July to September)Q3 (July to September) $66,381  $66,381 -1%-1%
Q2 (April to June)Q2 (April to June)$66,016$66,016+2%+2%
Q1 (January to March)Q1 (January to March) $65,799 $65,799+3%+3%

Mr Cairns said breaking down salary data further shows it grew incrementally over the quarter. “In October the national average salary was $67,056, in November it reached $67,836, before finishing off the year in December at $68,001.

“The East Coast was the stand out in Q4, with the Gisborne region seeing its average salary jump by 8 per cent in one year with the Hawke’s Bay closely behind, up 7 per cent.” Mr Cairns said the Nelson/Tasman and Otago regions also saw average salaries climb 7 per cent year-on-year in Q4.

While most regions saw pay bumps, Mr Cairns said Auckland (-3%) and Wellington (-5%) were the exceptions, with average salaries falling by 5 per cent and 3 per cent respectively when compared with Q4 2021. “Despite the drops, these remained the two highest paying regions, with Auckland’s average salary at $69,374 and Wellington’s at $69,734.”

In the sectors, the biggest pay increase was seen in hospitality & tourism, with the average salary up 9 per cent year-on-year to a new high of $58,994. “In the engineering sector, the average salary grew 8 per cent in 12 months to $87,571.”

Sectors that saw record-high salaries in Q4 2022:
SectorAverage salary -Q4 2022Year-on-year % change Q4 2022 vs Q4 2021
Hospitality & tourismHospitality & tourism$58,994$58,994+9%+9%
Transport & logisticsTransport & logistics$62,402$62,402+7%+7%
Manufacturing & operationsManufacturing & operations$60,073$60,073+7%+7%
Agriculture, fishing & forestryAgriculture, fishing & forestry$64,883$64,883+5%+5%
Customer serviceCustomer service$56,711$56,711+5%+5%
Trades & servicesTrades & services$65,628$65,628+4%+4%
Executive & general managementExecutive & general management$124,212$124,212+3%+3%
Office & administrationOffice & administration$59,463$59,463+2%+2%

Transport & logistics and manufacturing & operations both saw average salaries grow by 7 per cent year-on-year to $62,402 and $60,073 respectively.

Listing numbers see a drop

Last quarter, Mr Cairns said the number of jobs listed onsite nationwide fell by 12 per cent when compared with the same period in 2021. “This mostly comes down to the market finding its feet after the sugar rushes we experienced during the pandemic.

“In the final months of 2021, the borders were shut and businesses were really struggling to find candidates. As a result, in Q4 2021 we saw more jobs listed onsite than ever before. Now, with migrants entering the country again and Kiwi feeling more confident to explore their options, it’s no surprise that job listings have slowed.”

Mr Cairns said falling listing numbers in Q4 were also a result of interest rates increasing. “When the Reserve Bank lifted the Official Cash Rate in November, we immediately saw businesses rethink that next hire. This was especially the case for small to medium-sized businesses, who felt particularly weary of committing to employing new team members due to economic uncertainty.”

Hospitality & tourism has a standout quarter

Mr Cairns said while most sectors saw listings fall in Q4, the number of hospitality & tourism roles climbed 15 per cent year-on-year. “The hospitality & tourism industry has been in the spotlight over the past couple of years and was one of the most impacted by the lack of overseas visitors during the pandemic.

The hospitality & tourism roles that saw the largest year-on-year increase in listings in Q4 were kitchen staff (+47%), housekeeping (+22%) and chefs (+10%).

“Demand for hospitality & tourism staff is still sky-high but the good news for businesses is that applications are now on the rise, too.”

Changes ahead for 2023

Looking ahead, Mr Cairns said there would likely be some shake ups to the jobs market in 2023. “Despite reaching an all-time high in Q4, the rate of salary growth is already showing signs of slowing down and we are likely to see this continue in the new year.

“We should keep in mind that despite the rise in applications and drop in listings we saw in Q4, many industries are still battling talent shortages and this will continue to bolster job listing supply in 2023.

“On the flipside, we expect continued economic uncertainty, on the back of higher interest rates and the upcoming election, will see the overall job market remain reasonably strong, but not able to keep up with the highs we’ve seen in the past 12-18 months.”

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