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Jobs Online monthly report – December 2009

Jobs Online measures job vacancies advertised on the main internet job boards, focusing mainly on skilled occupations[1] at a regional level and in different industries. The results are presented as an index, which measures change in the number of job advertisements, rather than the absolute number of job advertisements.

There is always a substantial fall in job advertising during December. Because the Jobs Online indexes are trend series that adjust for seasonal and irregular changes in the data, we are able to compare December figures with other months.

Jobs Online replaces the previous Job Vacancy Monitoring series, which gathered data on job advertisements placed in newspapers. Jobs Online is an improved method of data collection that accesses a considerably larger number of advertisements, is very up-to-date and better reflects modern advertising and recruitment practices. For more on Jobs Online, see the Background and Methodology report.

Key points

The latest figures from the Department’s Jobs Online suggest that the increase in the number of job advertisements that began in the middle of 2009 has continued through December. Key points from Jobs Online report for December are:

Figure 1 shows that the Skilled Vacancies Index (SVI) increased from the beginning of the series in May 2007 to around March 2008. The index has been falling since then, with a 48% decrease between March 2008 and June 2009. However, the trend has levelled off since June 2009 and has increased by 5.0% over the past three months. The All Vacancies Index (AVI), which includes all occupations, reached a similar peak in March 2008, fell faster to June 2009 and has increased by 5.8% over the past three months.

Figure 1: Skilled Vacancies Index (SVI) and All Vacancies Index (AVI) – Trend series (May 2007=100)


Source: Department of Labour (SVI and AVI trend series)

Data table for Figure 1

Labour market outlook

Because employment lags the recovery in the wider economy, the labour market is expected to soften further over coming months. We expect small increases in the unemployment rate over the next six months, peaking around 7% in the middle of 2010.

We expect employment growth to remain weak over the next few months as firms look to restore the hours of their existing staff before they take on new employees. We do not expect a substantial rise in the number of new job vacancies until later in the year.

While we expect skill shortages to re-emerge with the economic recovery, business opinion surveys still indicate that firms are finding it fairly easy to recruit skilled staff. The Department’s Leading Indicator of Employment is currently predicting that employment will begin to grow again in the June 2010 quarter.

Job advertisements have increased in all regions…

Skilled vacancies have increased in all regions over the past three months, led by Wellington with a 7% increase. While, in recent months, skilled job advertisements in the South Island (outside of Christchurch) have grown more slowly than other regions, over the longer term they fell by less than any other region since the start of the series in May 2007.

On an annual basis, the number of skilled job advertisements is lower than it was a year ago across all regions, with Wellington and Auckland having the largest fall.

Table 1: Skilled Vacancies Index by region
Region Dec 2008-Dec 2009 Sep 2009-Dec 2009
Auckland -26.3% 3.8%
Wellington -31.4% 7.0%
North Island - Other -14.4% 3.8%
Christchurch -14.2% 5.6%
South Island - Other -18.1% 1.0%

Detailed region charts and data

and most industries have begun to rebound …

There has been vacancy growth in most industries since the middle of 2009. However, job advertisements have continued to fall in the construction and engineering industry, and levelled off in the healthcare and medical industry. Job advertisements in education and training have run counter to the trend, rising throughout the recession but falling since mid-2009.

Detailed industry charts and data

with vacancies increasing across skilled occupation groups.

Vacancy growth over the past three months was fairly evenly spread across the major occupation groups. Job advertisements for managers showed the strongest growth over the quarter, as well as by far the smallest annual decline.

Table 2: Skilled Vacancies Index for 1-digit occupations
Occupation group Dec 08-Dec 09 Sep 09-Dec 09
Managers -7.8% 6.4%
Professionals -29.5% 4.3%
Technicians and trades workers -21.0% 6.3%
All skilled occupations1 -23.0% 5.0%

1 Includes people in skilled occupations within other 1-digit groups, which are shown in Table 3 below.

Detailed occupational charts and tables

Table 3 below shows the annual change in skilled vacancies at a more detailed occupational level. Because some of these occupational groups are fairly small and the series has been running for less than three years, it is not yet possible to create a seasonally adjusted series that allows us to compare the latest data with the previous three months.

However, while there have been recent signs of recovery in the labour market, these results show that the number of job advertisements for nearly all occupations is significantly down on the same time last year. Only education professionals show an annual increase and this increase was driven by growth in early childhood and university positions. There was a strong fall in the number of job advertisements for positions in schools.

Table 3 : Skilled occupations, annual percentage change1 to December 2009
Occupational group 2-digit occupation Dec 08 -  Dec 09
Managers Chief executives, general managers and legislators -21%
Farmers and farm managers -52%
Specialist managers -17%
Hospitality, retail and service managers -13%
Professionals Arts and media professionals -30%
Business, human resource and marketing Professionals -37%
Design, engineering, science and transport Professionals -53%
Education professionals 8%
Health professionals -12%
ICT professionals -39%
Legal, social and welfare professionals -25%
Technicians and trades workers Engineering, ICT and science technicians -39%
Automotive and engineering trades workers -41%
Construction trades workers -1%
Electrotechnology and telecommunications trades workers -43%
Food trades workers -3%
Skilled animal and horticultural workers -12%
Other technicians and trades workers -10%
Community and personal service workers Health and welfare support workers -21%
Hospitality workers -13%
Protective service workers -20%
Sports and personal service workers -20%
Clerical and administrative workers Office managers and program administrators -27%
Personal assistants and secretaries -40%
Inquiry clerks and receptionists -1%
Other clerical and administrative workers -39%
 Sales workers Sales representatives and agents -27%

1 Compares the average number of job advertisements for the three months to December 2009 with the average number for the three months to December 2008. Note that this differs from annual comparisons for the Skilled Vacancy Index, which is a trend series.


[1] Skilled occupations are defined as skill levels 1-3 under the Australia New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). Skill level 3 is equivalent to an NCEA level 4 qualification. Vacancies for occupations outside these groups are much less likely to advertised and may not be representative of labour market changes.