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Local optimism but NZ job scene ugly

By Brendan Manning

Wairarapa has all the resources it needs to thrive in the face of the worst national unemployment rate in more than a decade, the chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce says.

Stephanie Gundersen-Reid said although unemployment was high - 9 per cent - the area had enough strong industries to support the employment needs of its residents.

"We've got quite a strong food industry here, we've got a strong timber mill that supports quite a few people, we've got our DHB, we are also fortunate to have a lot of vineyards, which is good for seasonal labour," Ms Gundersen-Reid said.

"I do feel opportunities will open up once the economy stabilises a little bit, but it's anyone's guess when that will happen."

Statistics New Zealand figures show the unemployment rate of 9 per cent in Wairarapa is significantly above the national rate of 7.3 per cent - and the worst rate since 1999.

However, a national report out this week shows job vacancies advertised online have rebounded in the past month, giving hope to thousands of out-of-work job hunters.

Ms Gundersen-Reid said after looking at jobs advertised online, a range of employment opportunities existed in the area, from specialist medical roles to retail and hospitality.

"It depends on the skill base of the people looking for employment, but there is quite a broad spectrum of jobs available," she said.

"Not enough, of course, to get everybody into work; however I do think that as the economy begins to strengthen that business people will look to increase and expand.

"A lot of people are putting that off at the moment because of the uncertainty of the economic environment."

Nationally, job vacancies advertised online rose 15 per cent in the last year, according to the latest Jobs Online report from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The report found demand for skilled workers was up nationwide but warned that weak employment growth showed the labour market still faced significant challenges.

The latest results showed advertised skilled vacancies jumped by 5.6 per cent in October and total online job vacancies increased by 4.7 per cent compared with September.

Demand for skilled workers was up in the main centres, with the strongest growth in Auckland, followed by Wellington and Canterbury.

Growth in Canterbury was driven by the demand for skilled workers in the construction and engineering industries, and hospitality and tourism, the ministry's labour research general manager, Vasantha Krishnan, said.

"The Canterbury rebuild continues to drive demand for labour in the region."

In the last year, the number of jobs advertised online jumped significantly - with skilled job vacancies up 14.2 per cent and total job vacancies up 15 per cent.

However, Statistics NZ figures showed last week that unemployment rose by 19,000 to 170,100 in the year to September, pushing the unemployment rate up from 6.6 per cent to 7.3 per cent - the highest in 13 years.


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