21 Jan 2021

Labour market confidence improves

10:49 am on 21 January 2021

Labour market confidence improved in December, although remains below pre-Covid levels.

Closeup of employer showing his employee where to sign a contract, with a retro filter effect.

Photo: Gaj Rudolf/123 RF

The fourth quarter Westpac McDermott Miller Employment Confidence Index rose to 97.6 in the December quarter, which was a 10.2 point increase on the September survey.

Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens said most of the improvement in confidence related to job opportunities and job security.

"As the Covid-19 restrictions were lifted, activity has been able to quickly return towards previous levels, and firms are ready to hire again," he said.

"The exception is the tourism sector, due to the closure of international borders.

"This continues to have an impact on job prospects and confidence."

Confidence among private sector employees had also risen considerably since last quarter, but they remained pessimistic at 96.6 points, which was an increase of 12.9 points.

This compared with public sector employees who were cautiously optimistic at 100.3 points - an increase of 4.3 points.

There had also been a small drop in confidence among young people aged 18 to 29 since the September survey, which contrasted with the strong rise in confidence among those in older age groups.