New Zealand jobs market bounces back close to pre-pandemic levels

Country’s biggest job advertising website reports 19% growth in jobs, after remarkable economic recovery in December

Members of the public exercise along the waterfront in Wellington
Business confidence has picked up since New Zealand eliminated Covid. Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Job vacancies are booming in New Zealand since the country contained an outbreak of the coronavirus with a hard lockdown in early 2020.

The country’s biggest job advertising site, Seek, has reported a 19% national growth in jobs advertised in the final quarter of 2020, and the number of job ads on the website has bounced back to nearly pre-pandemic levels.

The sectors posting the most vacancies included IT and communications, manufacturing, transport & logistics and trades & services. Jobs in customer-facing roles have taken the hardest hit.

The news follows a surprise economic recovery for the country, with finance minister Grant Robertson in December reporting the economy grew 14% in the third quarter of 2020. “The economic bounce back is a result of our decision to go hard and early during the Covid-19 pandemic,” Robertson said at the time, referring to the seven-week lockdown that began in March.

Stats NZ said the third-quarter growth was the strongest in New Zealand’s modern history, coming off the back of an 11% drop in the June quarter.

Janet Faulding, the general manager of Seek NZ said almost all regions of the country experienced a substantial rise in new job ads, compared with the previous quarter. In Auckland the numbers rose 24%, in Wellington 20% and in Canterbury 17%.

Faulding said on Wednesday: “Following the New Zealand 2020 general election in October, we noticed an increase in business confidence. More certainty led to continued growth in the lead-up to the holiday period.

“Despite such a unique and challenging year for the labour market it is really encouraging to end quarter four 2020 just 7% lower than 2019. It is a real testament to the resilience and hard work of so many New Zealanders to end the year positively.”

Across metro areas, professional and consumer services faced the biggest challenge after a decline of 14% and 24% year-on-year respectively, said Faulding.

“When we experience a difficult economic outlook, businesses tend to hold off in recruiting these sorts of roles and less international tourism has had a significant impact,” she said.

New Zealand closed its borders to international visitors in March of 2020, leading to a shortage of foreign workers in many industries.

The hospitality and farming sectors have reported thousands of job vacancies, while the agriculture and horticulture industries say they’re short of 40,000 workers.