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Jobs Online monthly report – January 2010

Key Points

Jobs Online measures changes in job vacancies advertised on the main internet job boards. The latest figures from Jobs Online show the increase in the number of job advertisements that began in the middle of 2009 has continued through January, indicating that job prospects for many are improving. However, while job advertisements have increased in many regions, unemployment has not yet peaked.

Key points from this month’s report include:


Job advertisements are on the up…

Skilled advertised vacancies increased by 1.7% between October 2009 and January 2010. The trend in Figure 1 shows that skilled vacancies increased from the beginning of the series in May 2007 to around March 2008, then fell 48% before levelling off in June 2009. Since then, skilled advertisements have increased by 9% to January 2010.

Advertised vacancies for all skill levels have followed a similar trend, peaking in March 2008.  These advertised vacancies fell faster to June 2009 and have increased by 4.0% over the three months to January 2010.

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

Data Table for Figure 1

…indicating that job prospects for many are improving…

Jobs Online, in conjunction with other indicators such as the Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion, indicate that employment prospects in the economy are improving.

While firms' employment and investment intentions are still at subdued levels, they have been improving and continue to trend upwards in line with marginally increasing business activity. We expect this trend to continue through February 2010.

…however, unemployment may not yet have peaked.

Any increase in vacancies is unlikely to be strong enough to cover new entrants into the labour force as well as any further job losses. Moreover, firms are likely to increase the hours of their existing staff before they take on new employees.

This helps explain why the unemployment rate rose over the December 2009 quarter to 7.3%, even while job advertisements during that period were increasing.

The information above suggests that the unemployment rate may peak at slightly above its current rate in the middle of 2010.

Job advertisements have increased in most regions…

Skilled vacancies have increased in all regions over the three months to January, except for Wellington and the South Island (outside of Christchurch). In recent months, skilled job advertisements in the North Island (outside of Wellington and Auckland) not only grew faster than other regions, but also fell less over the year to January 2010.

On an annual basis, Wellington had the largest fall in advertised vacancies (down 31.3%), finishing with a very minor fall (0.1%) in the three months to January 2010.

Table 1: Skilled Vacancies Index (SVI) by region
Region Oct 09 - Jan 10 Jan 09 - Jan 10
Auckland 1.7% -19.9%
Wellington -0.1% -31.3%
North Island - Other 2.4% -9.9%
Christchurch 1.1% -13.4%
South Island - Other -0.9% -15.8%
Nationwide 1.7% -19.3

Detailed region charts and data can be found here.

…and half of all industries have begun to rebound…

Vacancy growth has been varied across industries in the three months to January, and over the preceding year. Industries with rising vacancies were the hospitality industry, the sales and retail industry, and the IT industry. Conversely, falling vacancies were associated with the construction and engineering industry; the healthcare and medical industry; the education industry; and the accounting, human resources, legal and administration industry group.

Job advertisements in education and training have run counter to the trend, rising throughout the recession but falling since mid-2009.

Table 2: Skilled Vacancies Index (SVI) by industry group
Industry group Oct 09 - Jan 10 Jan 09 - Jan 10
Accounting, HR, legal, administration -2.4% -40.6%
IT 2.0% -33.1%
Construction and engineering -9.2% -54.2%
Education -9.3% -10.9%
Health and medical -5.9% -20.6%
Hospitality 6.6% 1.8%
Sales, retail, marketing, advertising 13.7% 7.4%
Other 6.1% -16.7%

Detailed industry charts and data can be found here.

…with vacancies increasing across skilled occupation groups.

Vacancy growth over the three months to January was also varied across the major skilled occupation groups as indicated in Table 3. Job advertisements for technicians and trades showed the strongest growth over the quarter, but had the second largest annual decline. Vacancies for professionals had the biggest fall over the year to January (27.3%) and experienced a small (0.8%) decline over the quarter.

Table 3: Skilled Vacancies Index (SVI) for high level (1-digit ANZSCO) occupations
Occupation group Oct 09 - Jan 10 Jan 09 - Jan 10
Managers 4.6% -0.1%
Professionals -0.8% -27.3%
Technicians and trades workers 6.2% -12.6%
All skilled occupations 1 1.7% -19.3%

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

Detailed occupational charts and tables can be found here.

Table 4 below shows that, on an annual basis, most skilled occupations experienced a large decrease over the year to January 2010, reflecting the impact of the recession.  As such, the recent increases in job vacancies are positive indicators of the recovery.

Table 4: Skilled occupations, annual percentage change 1 to January 2010
Occupational Group 2-Digit Occupation Jan 09 - Jan 10
Managers Chief Executives, General Managers and Legislators -21%
Farmers and Farm Managers -48%
Specialist Managers -9%
Hospitality, Retail and Service Managers -10%
Professionals Arts and Media Professionals -30%
Business, Human Resource and Marketing Professionals -34%
Design, Engineering, Science and Transport Professionals -52%
Education Professionals -4%
Health Professionals -23%
ICT Professionals -37%
Legal, Social and Welfare Professionals -26%
Technicians and Trades Workers Engineering, ICT and Science Technicians -34%
Automotive and Engineering Trades Workers -20%
Construction Trades Workers 4%
Electro-technology and Telecommunications Trades Workers -32%
Food Trades Workers -4%
Skilled Animal and Horticultural Workers -15%
Other Technicians and Trades Workers -7%
Community and Personal Service Workers Health and Welfare Support Workers -26%
Hospitality Workers 12%
Protective Service Workers -45%
Sports and Personal Service Workers -10%
Clerical and Administrative Workers Office Managers and Program Administrators -14%
Personal Assistants and Secretaries -39%
Inquiry Clerks and Receptionists 3%
Other Clerical and Administrative Workers -41%
Sales Workers Sales Representatives and Agents -30%
Total Skilled   -28%

1 Compares the average number of job advertisements for the three months to January 2010 with the average number for the three months to January 2009. Note: this is not a trend series, and so differs from annual comparisons for the Skilled Vacancy Index. It is not yet possible to create a seasonally adjusted series for this table, as some of these occupational groups are fairly small and the series has been running for such a short time.


Jobs Online includes two separate indices: the All Vacancy Index (AVI) tracks all job vacancies listed, and the Skilled Vacancies Index (SVI) looks closer at skilled occupations [1]. The Skilled Vacancies Index is broken down further by detailed occupation, location and industry type. The results are presented as an index that measures changes in the number of job advertisements.

Vacancies are highly seasonal: for instance, there is usually a substantial fall in the numbers of jobs advertised during December and then a small increase in January. To remove such seasonality, the Jobs Online data reported here has been converted to a trend series [2], allowing us to compare figures between months.

Jobs Online replaces the previous Job Vacancy Monitoring series, which gathered data on job advertisements placed in newspapers. Jobs Online allows us to access a considerably larger number of advertisements in a timelier manner, and better reflects the dominance of online advertising in the recruitment sector.

For more on Jobs Online, see the Background and Methodology report at http://www.dol.govt.nzmethodology/ or email the Labour Market Skills Team at info@mbie.govt.nz.

[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.

[2] Trend series have had both the seasonal and irregular components removed, and reveal the underlying direction of movement in a series.