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Jobs Online monthly report – November 2009

Jobs Online

Jobs Online is a package of indicators that measures change in the number of job vacancies advertised on the main internet job boards. Jobs Online focuses mostly 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 ads rather than the absolute number of job ads. The Skilled Vacancies Index measures change in job ads for skilled occupations.

Jobs Online replaces the previous Job Vacancy Monitoring series, which gathered data on job ads placed in newspapers. Jobs Online is an improved method of data collection that 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

While the September unemployment rate increased to 6.5%, and the consensus is that it will continue to rise, new data from the Department’s Jobs Online suggests that the decline in the labour market has begun to turn around. This is the first monthly report to be released from Jobs Online.

Key points from Jobs Online for November are:

Figure 1 shows that the Skilled Vacancies Index increased from the beginning of the series in May 2007 till 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 1.5% over the past three months. The All Vacancies Index (which includes all occupations) reached a similar peak in March 2008, fell faster to June 2009, but has increased by 3.1% over the past three months.

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

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 the labour market lags the wider economy, the labour market is expected to soften further over coming months. However, we expect smaller increases in the unemployment rate over the next six months and the unemployment rate to rise to a peak of around 7% in the middle of 2010.

During the downturn, there has been evidence that many employers tried to hold on to labour by reducing hours rather than laying workers off. During the recovery, businesses should be able to increase production by increasing the hours worked by their existing workforce before they commit to hiring new staff. As a result, employment growth is expected to be subdued for some time. We do not expect a substantial rise in the number of new job vacancies until well into 2010.

Business opinion surveys show that firms are intending to keep staff numbers at current levels. The Department of Labour’s Leading Indicator of Employment is currently predicting that employment will begin to grow again in the June 2010 quarter.

Auckland leads recent job ad growth…

Skilled vacancies rose in Auckland by 5.0% over the past three months, vacancies in Wellington rose by 0.9% and Christchurch rose by 0.2%. However, vacancy levels outside the three biggest cities have held up the best before and during the recession, rising to a higher peak in mid-2008 and falling at a slower rate than the main centres.

On an annual basis, skilled vacancies are much lower than they were a year ago across all regions. Wellington has fared worst with a 40% drop in vacancies, followed by Auckland with a 32% fall.

Table 1 :Skilled Vacancies Index by region
Region Nov 2008 -
Nov 2009
Aug 2009 -
Nov 2009
Auckland -32% 5.0%
Wellington -40% 0.9%
North Island - Other -23% 0.2%
Christchurch -23% 0.2%
South Island - Other -24% -2.2%

job vacancies were still strong in education and health…

Vacancy growth in the education and training, and healthcare and medical industries continued for some time after vacancy numbers in other industries started to fall. Education and training vacancies have only recently started to fall, while health and medical vacancies have been falling slowly since the start of 2009. Retail, and hospitality and tourism vacancies have also started to rise since the middle of this year.

The construction and engineering industry has had the steepest fall in job ads, but also had the strongest rise from May 2007 till early 2008.

and vacancies for managers, and technicians and trades workers increased.

The index showed mixed results for high level occupational groups in the three months to the end of November 2009. Table 2 below shows that growth was highest for technicians and trades workers, followed by managers, while the index for professionals rose slightly. On an annual basis, the index for all these occupations fell in the year to November 2009 by 31%.

Table 2 : Skilled Vacancies Index for 1-digit occupations
Occupation group Nov 08-Nov 09 Aug 09-Nov 09
Managers -17% 6.4%
Professionals -38% 0.4%
Technicians and trades workers -27% 7.4%
All skilled occupations1 -31% 1.5%

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

Table 3 below shows the change in skilled vacancies at a more detailed level. Because of the size of these groups, 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, in annual terms, of the skilled occupations identified in the table below, only education professionals and protective service workers had an increase in job ads in the year to November 2009.

Table 3 : Skilled occupations, annual percentage change1 to November 2009
Occupational group 2-digit occupation Nov 08 - Nov 09
Managers Chief executives, general managers and legislators -29%
Farmers and farm managers -55%
Specialist managers -24%
Hospitality, retail and service managers -17%
Professionals Arts and media professionals -38%
Business, human resource and marketing Professionals -41%
Design, engineering, science and transport Professionals -54%
Education professionals 5%
Health professionals -12%
ICT professionals -46%
Legal, social and welfare professionals -29%
Technicians and trades workers Engineering, ICT and science technicians -41%
Automotive and engineering trades workers -44%
Construction trades workers -13%
Electrotechnology and telecommunications trades workers -53%
Food trades workers -11%
Skilled animal and horticultural workers -20%
Other technicians and trades workers -19%
Community and personal service workers Health and welfare support workers -14%
Hospitality workers -27%
Protective service workers 11%
Sports and personal service workers -22%
Clerical and administrative workers Office managers and program administrators -35%
Personal assistants and secretaries -43%
Inquiry clerks and receptionists -14%
Other clerical and administrative workers -37%
Sales workers Sales representatives and agents -19%

1 Compares the average number of job ads for the three months to November 2009 with the average number for the three months to November 2008.


[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.