20 Jan 2022

Job ads 'well above' pre-pandemic levels but workers uncertain about future earnings

11:22 am on 20 January 2022

Lots of jobs are on on offer but workers are still feeling less confident about future earnings, an employment survey has found.

Man trying to find work with online job search engine on tablet.

The number of online job advertisements stayed well above pre-pandemic levels, Westpac acting chief economist Michael Gordon said. Photo: 123RF

The December quarter Westpac McDermott Miller Employment Confidence rose 1.2 points to 106.9 point, which was the sixth straight rise in the index since the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.

An index number over 100 indicates that optimists outnumber pessimists, with the steady rise largely driven by perceptions about current job opportunities.

"The labour market is set to be one of the most fascinating economic stories of 2022," Westpac acting chief economist Michael Gordon said.

"Even with the Covid restrictions in place over recent months, the number of online job advertisements stayed well above pre-pandemic levels."

Online advertising platform Trade Me Jobs reported the total number of job listings in 2021 rose 51 percent over the year earlier.

"And while we would expect upward pressure on pay rates to follow, workers aren't saying that they're seeing it yet," Gordon said, noting wage growth tended to lag the broader economic cycle.

"Perhaps this is the shoe that's yet to drop as inflation pressures become more entrenched."

McDermott Miller director Imogen Rendall said public sector workers were more confident about their position than private sector employees.

"Confidence amongst employees working in the public sector has risen again this quarter, up 5.3 points to 115.3. This is in stark contrast to private sector employees whose confidence has dropped 2.2 points to 102.0," she said.

"Those in the private sector continue to be concerned about their personal job security and fewer have reported growth in their earnings over the past year."

The survey was conducted from 1 December to 12 December with a sample size of 1558 and a margin of error of 2.5 percent.

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