Job market begins 2021 in good shape

Here's what the last of 2020's Trade Me Jobs' data tells us about the state of NZ's job market.

25 January 2021

After a year of uncertainty, New Zealand’s job market came out of 2020 looking considerably better than expected, according to analysis of over 55,500 vacancies listed on Trade Me Jobs for the quarter ending 31 December 2020.

Trade Me Jobs spokesperson Matt Tolich said in the final quarter of 2020 the number of job listings nationwide was relatively flat, down just 1% when compared to the same time in 2019. “This is a phenomenal outcome given the year that was, blowing even the most optimistic economic predictions out of the water.

“Looking at December alone, job listings nationwide were up 8% on the year prior which is some pretty incredible growth."

“Looking at December alone, job listings nationwide were up 8% on the year prior which is some pretty incredible growth."

Mr Tolich said it was the provinces that had the strongest end to the year with twelve of New Zealand’s fifteen regions seeing an annual increase in job listings. “When we take a closer look at the country, we can see the regions really carried the quarter with some seeing strong double-digit growth in job vacancies.

“The biggest year-on-year listing increase was seen in Manawatu/Whanganui where listings were up by 32%. The region’s largest district, Palmerston North, saw a 26% increase in listings.

Other regions that saw substantial listing increases were Nelson/Tasman, Northland and Taranaki, with Q4 listings all up 18% year-on-year. The only exception was Otago which saw listings dip 9%.

However, Mr Tolich said there was another factor that may have played a role in the quarter’s outcome. “A lot of businesses were forced to make deep cuts when we entered lockdown. By the time the last quarter of 2020 rolled around, the economy was in much better shape and rehiring for these roles likely accounts for some of the stability we saw last quarter.

“Listing numbers were not the only sign of market stability last quarter. We also saw a 2% year-on-year increase in the national average salary, which rose to $63,177.”

Mr Tolich said the job market had kicked off 2021 in great shape. “It’s remarkable to see the job market looking so healthy when we consider the economic uncertainty that employers faced in 2020 - it’s great to see things looking up as we head into a new year.”

Auckland's job market was hit the hardest

Auckland was hit the hardest in the last quarter of 2020 with job listings in the region falling 15% on the same time in 2019, while listings in Auckland City were down 19 per cent.

Mr Tolich said every sector saw a drop in listing numbers in the region, with the exception of hospitality & tourism. “The number of listings in this sector was up 5% year-on-year, which is likely in part due to the deep cuts made by Auckland employers earlier in the year.”

Mr Tolich said some large sectors in Auckland saw a significant annual drop in job listings with customer service (down 48%), office & administration (down 46%), and marketing, media & communications (down 42%).

Despite the drop in Auckland job listings last quarter, Mr Tolich said it’s not all bad news for the region. “Job listings in the Auckland region were still up 2% when compared with Q3 and all things considered, this is a positive indicator that the market is entering recovery mode.”

Mr Tolich said the region’s average salary was $65,879 in Q4, up 2% from the same period in 2019.

Wellington sees listings fall and salaries rise

Following Auckland’s trend, job vacancies in Wellington were down 3% on the year prior.

Despite seeing an overall drop in job listings, Mr Tolich said the Wellington region saw a 3% increase in its average salary when compared with Q4 2019. “The region’s average salary was $69,897, up from $67,512 this time in the previous year.”

“If we look at Wellington City alone, the salary increase was even larger at $72,976 up 5% year-on-year and continuing to rein as the highest paid district in the country.”

Mr Tolich puts the salary increase down to a high volume of high paying roles being listed onsite. “Construction & roading is the second largest category in the region and the sector saw a 30 per increase in listing numbers and a 13% increase in average salary ($75,020) in Q4 when compared with the same period in 2019.

A mixed bag in the sectors

Mr Tolich said a number of sectors showed significant growth last quarter, with the biggest year-on-year increases seen in property (up 20%), fishing and forestry (14%), automotive (13%) and manufacturing & operations (12%).

“We know both the property and motors sectors were extremely busy in Q4 last year as many Kiwis redirected their funds and chose to purchase property or a new car, so it wasn’t surprising that job listings in these sectors were up accordingly.”

Mr Tolich said the customer service sector saw the largest year-on-year drop in listings last quarter, down 36 per cent when compared with the same quarter in 2019. “Architecture and office & administration saw some big drops in listings too, both down 33 per cent year-on-year in Q4.”

Mr Tolich added that the lack of overseas workers was making it tough for some sectors to find talent. “While sectors like fishing & forestry typically experience a seasonal jump in Q4, in 2020 with no overseas workers to fill these roles, employers were forced to look locally and this is contributing to some big jumps in job listings.”

IT roles the top earners

Mr Tolich said all five of the top-paying roles onsite were in the IT sector in Q4. 

“Many employers looked to IT to help their business adapt and survive the pandemic, and as a result businesses have had to pay top dollar to compete and secure the candidates they want.The highest paying role was IT project management, with an average salary of $140,811.”

“Nationwide, the biggest year-on-year increases in average pay were seen in executive & general management (up 9%), HR & recruitment (up 8%), manufacturing & operations (up 7%), and retail (up 6%).”