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Roaring start to 2021 for the national job market

Here's how the New Zealand jobs market shaped up in Q1.

By Trade Me 15 April 2021

The national job market had a cracking start to the year, with the number of listings skyrocketing in Q1 according to the analysis of over 71,400 vacancies listed on Trade Me Jobs for the quarter ending 31 March 2021.

Trade Me Jobs spokesperson, Matt Tolich, said nationwide the number of job listings onsite increased by 22% in Q1 when compared with the same period in 2020. “The start of the year is always a busy period for the job market, but we saw an even stronger Q1 than expected with the phenomenal increase in listings.”

The largest year-on-year increases in listings in Q1 were seen in the automotive (50%), construction & roading (43%), and manufacturing & operations (40%) sectors.

“We put much of this down to the lack of migrant workers creating a skill short market. We’re also seeing Kiwis increase their discretionary spending on things like house renovations and car upgrades from their redirected overseas holiday funds.”

Matt said digging deeper into the Q1 data uncovered more good news. “Given that the job market was feeling the impact of economic uncertainty due to Covid-19 this time last year - and that we went into a nationwide lockdown at the end of last March - the year-on-year increase is not too surprising.

“However, it’s massively encouraging that if we go back to Q1 of 2019, we saw a 15% increase in listings last quarter, and if we compare Q1 with the last quarter of 2020 we saw a 29% increase in job listings.

“The job market is in extremely good health, there are a lot of roles out there.” Matt said the increase in listings was particularly impressive considering economic predictions due to Covid-19 from this time last year. ”One year ago the outlook for the job market was pretty dire, to say the least, so it’s remarkable to see such a strong start to the year and evidence of more good news for job seekers and employers to come.”

Looking around the country, Matt said every region saw a year-on-year increase in job listings in Q1. “The biggest increases were seen in Gisborne (56%), Hawkes Bay (54%), Manawatū/Whanganui (46%), and Nelson/Tasman (47%).

The NZ automotive sector saw the largest year-on-year increase in listings in Q1 of 2021.

Auckland job market recovery continues to lag

When compared with the other regions, Matt said Auckland fell behind in Q1. “In fact, Auckland was the only region to not see a year-on-year listing increase in the double digits as it continued to bear the brunt of Covid-19 impacts.

“Taking a closer look at Auckland City, listings saw a comparatively small year-on-year increase of 1%.”

Matt said that the sectors that suffered the most last quarter could be linked back to Auckland’s lagging recovery. “The biggest year-on-year decreases in listings were seen in legal (-10%), accounting (-15%), and customer service (-15%) sectors and we know the vast majority of these roles are in Auckland.”

But Matt said it’s not all doom and gloom for the Auckland region. “It’s encouraging to see listing numbers in the region increased by a whopping 32% when compared with Q4 of 2020.

“The region’s average salary also saw an increase of 2% to $65,209 in Q1 from the same period in 2020.”

Wellington has a strong quarter all around

Job listings in the Wellington region had a strong start to the year, up 20% year-on-year in Q1. “When compared with Q4 2020, Wellington region listings were up 32% in Q1.

“If we go back further and look at pre-Covid times, we saw a 19% increase in listings in the Wellington region when compared with Q1 2019.

Looking at Wellington City, Matt said the increase in job listings was smaller, but still notable, at 12% year-on-year.

Matt said the average pay in the Wellington region saw no change when compared with this time last year at $68,796. “In Wellington City, the average pay was $74,548, putting it comfortably in first place as the highest-paid district in the country.”

The capital had a particularly strong start to the year.

IT roles dominate the highest-paid list

Matt said all five of the top-paying roles onsite were in the IT sector in Q1, with the highest-paid role - IT project manager - seeing an average salary of $148,582. “This marks the second quarter we have seen this in a row, showing the important role IT is playing in the post-Covid world, with many employers looking to tech solutions to help bolster their organisations and survive the pandemic.”

In Q1, Matt said the average pay for jobs increased in every region when compared with the same period last year with the exception of Wellington. “Average pay in Bay of Plenty ($60,770) & Canterbury hit all-time highs ($60,411) in Q1.”

Looking ahead, Matt said he expected to see the average pay increase in the coming quarter as a result of the recent minimum wage increase.