A local union organiser has slammed research suggesting workers are feeling more optimistic about the job market.
Rotorua EPMU organiser Raymond Wheeler said increased rates of casualisation and high unemployment were causing havoc for many jobseekers.
His comments followed the release of a survey which found workers rated better pay and employer benefits as the most important factor when choosing a job - with security slipping down the list.
A lack of large employers in Rotorua meant people were struggling to find permanent and temporary work, Mr Wheeler said.
"And if people aren't getting permanent jobs, they're not bothering with the casual stuff."
People wanted to work but were sick of being "used and abused", and many members in work felt uncertain about their future, Mr Wheeler said.
Research carried out by international recruitment agency Randstad surveyed 7000 Kiwi workers.
Nearly one in five respondents rated competitive salary and employee benefits as the most important factor when choosing an employer.
Long-term job security, which was found to be the number one determining factor in last year's survey, was rated second most-important.
New Zealand director of Randstad Paul Robinson said worker outlook was beginning to improve.
"Over the past couple of years there has been limited movement in the job market due to uncertainty, job insecurity and limited optimism, so employees chose to sit tight and work hard through tough financial times," he said.
"As optimism increases and the market begins to open up, people will start to reconsider benefits important to them, such as higher remuneration packages, the ability to be more mobile and work outside of the office, or have flexible working hours."
Longstanding employees who stuck by businesses through the global financial crisis, needed to feel valued by organisations, Mr Robinson said: "[This year] may just be
New Zealand's unemployment rate stood at 6.9 per cent for the three months to December. Of the 54,000 Kiwis on the unemployment benefit at the end of last year, 1500 were from Rotorua.