Unemployment at eight-year low

By Ruth Keber, Jordan Bond

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Unemployment for the Bay of Plenty region is the lowest it has been in almost eight years with Bay businesses employing more people than at any time in at least the last nine years.

Comparable to the housing boom, more Aucklanders are targeting the Tauranga job market and are accepting pay cuts for a better lifestyle.

According to Statistics New Zealand, almost 32,000 more people were employed in the Bay of Plenty in the March quarter compared to the March 2007 quarter, taking the total number of people employed in the Bay of Plenty to 147,000.

The unemployment rate was at its lowest since December 2008 and had dropped from 7.8 per cent to 5.1 per cent in the last year alone - the lowest in the North Island.

Seek.co.nz this week had 430 jobs advertised in Tauranga, while Trade Me had 727 jobs listed in Tauranga and 54 in the Western Bay of Plenty. In November 2013 the Bay of Plenty Times reported Seek had 236 jobs available in Tauranga and Trade Me had 351 in Tauranga and 20 in the Western Bay.

Recruitment and training company Agoge general manager Jim Grafas said job vacancies had definitely lifted during the past 12 months.

Mr Grafas said some roles he recruited for could attract hundreds of applicants, but they were often people who were from overseas and not immediately available or had other issues.

"In unskilled and temporary casual roles there is a lot more pressure and it's increasingly hard to find people, combined with increasing staff turnover in these roles. Some companies are reporting well over 100 per cent turnover in a 12-month period in their roles."

Higher paid roles (more than $100,000) were attracting significant numbers out-of-town applications, he said.

"One senior management role we recently marketed attracted nearly 100 applications, including a large number of overly qualified people willing to take a pay cut to relocate to Tauranga," Mr Grafas said.

The Right Staff senior recruitment, human resources consultant and director Claudia Nelson agreed the Tauranga job market was active.

Mrs Nelson said she expected to see it continue throughout the next year.

"Well-qualified and well-paid employees from Auckland choose Tauranga for lifestyle reasons and accept pay cuts to move here.

"It seems there are more candidates moving into the market than additional roles are available and we feel it will put pressure on local candidates to become more competitive, upskill and or gain additional qualifications," Mrs Nelson said.

"Over the last year the employment market has been buoyant with employers showing confidence in the business conditions, replacing staff and creating new roles without much hesitation."

Candidates had also been more active looking for better roles as well, she said.

"Over the last three to four months there has been a strong influx of job seekers from Auckland, which has led to increased competition over medium level to senior roles." Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stan Gregec said the figures were hugely pleasing to hear.

"That's a terrific change isn't it? That's a huge difference.

"That basically shows Tauranga is really going through a confident and buoyant phase at the moment and that looks set to continue.

"People are spending money and they're employing; those are the key drivers. Obviously people have more money in their pockets to spend and they are spending that money locally, and it's having a ripple effect in all sectors," Mr Gregec said.

Mt Maunganui-based Ultimate Homes said the company has been increasingly busy over the last few years. Owner Greg Leopold said the company added an extra four builders recently to cope with demand.

"It's been very busy. We've probably got a solid 12 months ahead of us and, in general, 40 per cent busier than we were three years ago," he said.

However, Mr Leopold said there were only enough subcontractors to fulfil the current demand and there may be shortages, should the industry heat up more. He said concrete tile roofers were being flown up from Christchurch to meet demand in the Bay.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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