Job vacancies are on the rise in Hawke's Bay, particularly in the recovering local viticulture industry, a Napier recruitment boss says.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's latest online jobs' report shows the number of jobs advertised online jumped 18.4 per cent nationwide in the year to March, with vacancies for skilled positions up 16.5 per cent.

Online job vacancies grew 1.9 per cent in March alone amid renewed signs of a strengthening labour market and economic growth.

Owner of HR and recruitment company BOSS group Leanne Welsh said the Hawke's Bay job market was definitely improving.


"What we're certainly seeing is more people moving [between jobs], so that, of course, means that there is more job advert activity as people decide that, 'Yes, now is the time to move'.

"That differs from previous years because going through the recession, if people had a job they stayed with it."

And it wasn't just movement between existing jobs. New positions were also being created locally, she said.

"We've certainly experienced an increase of clients coming to us and saying, 'I need to take on another person'."

The start of the year was always accompanied by increased activity, but job growth also reflected an economy in recovery, she said.

The viticulture industry, in particular, was making headway.

"Viticulture has been through some pretty rough years. And now, particularly for those that are exporting, the purse strings are loosening up overseas."

According to Statistics New Zealand's most recent household labour force survey, the employment rate in Hawke's Bay and Gisborne was 61.2 per cent of the working age population for the December quarter, up from 60.8 per cent for the same period a year earlier. The national rate was 64.7 per cent.

Nationwide, the employment rate rose 3 per cent in the year to December.

According to the MBIE jobs report, hospitality and tourism positions rose 36.7 per cent in the last year, while job vacancies in the sales, retail and marketing industries rose 21.7 per cent.

Hospitality NZ chief executive Bruce Robertson said the industry was finally recovering from the recession.

"Paymark data suggests there's been strong growth in hospitality spend over the last six months."

Increased spending had given employers confidence to hire more staff, he said.

"It's been four or five fairly tough years where people haven't been spending as much ... what we're seeing now is some confidence that the increased spend is going to be sustained."

The jobs report showed the medical and healthcare industry experienced the only drop in the last year, down 4.5 per cent.

MBIE labour market and business performance manager David Paterson said the job vacancy figures were consistent with the overall performance of the national economy and labour market.

"Despite the monthly fluctuations, we can see a healthy trend in vacancies over the past year, across all regions and most industries," he said.