Job ad volumes fell for the first time this year, driven by a steep decline in hospitality and tourism, new data from Seek NZ shows.
But the labour market remains strong when compared with pre-Covid levels, with applications per job ad on the rise.
The employment marketplace’s April Employment Report revealed monthly job ad volumes were down 1 per cent on March 2023, following three consecutive months of growth.
Job ad volumes remain down year-on-year – 16 per cent lower compared with April 2022.
“Job numbers are holding up pretty well,” said Rob Clark, Seek NZ country manager.
“Comparisons to last year were bound to be stark, as April 2022 was near the peak of the Great Job Boom.”
But with job ad volumes 15 per cent higher than in April 2019, “it is fair to say that there is still plenty of demand for workers”, Clark said.
Clark said the main difference they are seeing this year is the rise of applications per job ad, which were up 12 per cent for the month of March (a lag month).
“This shows that candidates are applying for roles in increasing numbers even when job ad volumes are also rising, particularly in some of the largest industries.
“This will be really pleasing for those looking for talent ... there’s more choice for hirers, and you may recall, last year that was a big problem - there was just a real scarcity of candidates relative to the higher number of jobs,” Clark said.
“We’re sort of getting to that more equilibrium place ... there’s still plenty of jobs out there if you’re looking for them.”
Clark added: “There is significant competition for roles in the trades and services industry, where applications per job ad [+33 per cent month-on-month] are now at record levels.”
He said they were also seeing high numbers of applications for labouring, cleaning and electrician roles.
Meanwhile, job ad volumes in the hospitality and tourism sector fell 19.9 per cent in April when compared with the previous month.
“We’re sort of on the shoulder season, so we’d expect that to perhaps ramp up a bit, particularly in the Otago region, come closer to the ski season,” Clark told the Herald.
“It’s still a pretty tough gig in terms of finding talent, but it’s getting better overall. That industry has relied heavily on the tourists coming, and whilst that is picking up, it’s still not nearly at the levels it was pre-Covid. But net migration is growing, so that’s good news from a talent pool perspective, and so we’ll start to see some improvements in that space for that particular industry.”
Other industries that saw lower job ad volumes for the month were advertising, arts and media (-20.8 per cent); sport and recreation (-12.4 per cent); and education and training (-8.6 per cent).
On the flip side, job ad volumes for human resources and recruitment rose 16.5 per cent.
Regionally, applications per job ad rose by 29 per cent in Otago for the month, 20 per cent in Canterbury and 10 per cent in Auckland.
“We are seeing Canterbury as a pretty popular place for the job market, and that continues to be the case,” Clark said.
However, those same regions also experienced the largest monthly declines in job ad volumes, led by Otago and Canterbury, down 6 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.
Auckland job ad volumes in April fell 4 per cent when compared to March.
Gisborne (+15 per cent), Southland (+14 per cent), Northland (+12 per cent) and the West Coast (+11 per cent) were the regions with the largest monthly job ad volume growth.
All regions are now recording higher job ad levels than pre-Covid, except for Auckland, which is 4 per cent lower.
In Auckland, job ad growth fell 22 per cent in the year to April 2023 – more than any other region.
Earlier this month, Stats NZ’s latest labour market figures revealed March quarter unemployment was unchanged at 3.4 per cent, but participation and wage growth rose to new record levels.
This highlighted the ongoing strength in the labour market, which ANZ chief economist Sharon Zollner said remained “white-hot”.