An economist says the recovery in the labour market remains patchy after the number of jobs filled by wage and salary earners edged down.
Statistics New Zealand's national employment indicator fell 0.2% in January compared with December, but is up 1.3% compared with January 2011.
The indicator is new, and Goldman Sachs economist Philip Borkin says the trend shows jobs growth has just edged up on a monthly basis over the past 11 months, indicating that the labour market recovery is sluggish.
The indicator provides an early indication of change in the number, rather than the level, of filled jobs.
The unemployment rate slipped to 6.3% in the last three months of 2011.
Last week, the Labour Department forecast the labour market to improve gradually over the next two years, anticipating that the economy will add nearly 94,000 jobs in that time.