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July ads could finally mean jobs growth - economist

By Ben Chapman-Smith

Newspaper job advertising bounced back last month but continues to lose market share against online ads.
Newspaper job advertising bounced back last month but continues to lose market share against online ads.

Newspaper and internet job advertisement numbers improved last month, which one economist says offers the hope of sustained job growth "finally coming to the party."

ANZ Bank released data today showing newspaper and internet ads rose 3.5 per cent last month, after a small rise of 0.3 per cent in June.

The ANZ Job Index was now 4.5 per cent higher than a year ago.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, there were 32,744 ads placed in the month, with internet ads accounting for 27,696 and newspaper ads for 5,048.

Internet ads increased 2.3 per cent between June and July and 5.9 per cent annually.

Newspaper advertising rebounded by 11 per cent in July, after declining in May and June, but levels were still down 2.4 per cent from a year ago.

ANZ senior economist Sharon Zöllner said the growth was "very welcome" but came off a fairly low base.

Internet job advertising was still 12.6 per cent below pre-recession levels and newspaper job ads continued to lose market share, she said.

Zöllner said the labour market had been a disappointment in an otherwise increasingly broad-based economic expansion.

"As job ads had signalled, there was indeed a small recoil in the unemployment rate in quarter two from its sharp fall in the first three months of the year.

"Today's result - if we can follow it up with successive monthly rises - offers the prospect of sustained job growth finally coming to the party."

Internet advertising had become a good indicator for the annual change in the
unemployment rate, Zöllner said.

"Tepid growth in internet job advertising has been matched by an unemployment rate that has stubbornly refused to fall in recent years."

In light of that, there would need to be a much more marked lift in internet job ads "before a sustained fall in the unemployment rate can be contemplated".

Figures out last week showed New Zealand's unemployment rate increased to 6.4 per cent in the three months ended June 30.

That compared to an average of 6.6 per cent recorded over the four years since the recession.

Job ad numbers in the regions were described by Zöllner as "volatile".

Internet ads increased in all three main centres and newspaper advertising increased in four out of the seven regions. In two of the three regions that saw falls in newspaper ads, that came off a strong lift the previous month.

Canterbury, Wellington and Auckland were seeing similar annual growth in terms of total job ads, ranging from 2.7 per cent to 4.6 per cent.

Sources used by ANZ to compile its job ad statistics include NZ Herald, Dominion Post, Press, Waikato Times, Seek, and Trade Me.

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