Slow, steady job growth is predicted for the next two years by a new short-term employment forecast produced by the Department of Labour, with growth strongest in Auckland, Christchurch and in skilled and professional roles.
The outlook forecasts a further 100,000 jobs will open up over the same period from people retiring and leaving the workforce, on top of the 93,700 new jobs it expects to be created between now and March 2014. Some 32,400 of the forecast increase is in the construction sector, reflecting the Christchurch rebuild and expected growth in Auckland, while 33,600 will be highly skilled positions.
The 4.2 percent increase over two years is expected to bring the official unemployment rate down to 5.4 percent by March 2014 from 6.3 percent at present. That’s a higher rate of joblessness than the Reserve Bank’s forecast of 4.8 percent in its latest monetary policy statement.
The new short-term employment prospects survey uses a new forecasting model, and will be produced twice yearly to complement other official statistics and forecasting, and is expected to assist with policy development on skills, employment and welfare issues.
“Our model complements other government forecasting as it reports on 11 regions, 28 industries and 96 occupational groups, and allows us to forecast employment growth breakdowns by region, industry and skill level,” the general manager of the department’s Labour and Immigration Research Centre, Vasantha Krishnan said.
The job growth rate ramps over the two year period, with 1.8 percent growth forecast this year and 2.4 percent in the year to March 2014, although the pace of reconstruction in Christchurch will be a key factor, and will produce a one-off surge in construction sector work. Employment growth in the year to March this year was 1.1 percent, the department estimates.
“Overall, our view is one of slow, steady growth in employment,” said Krishnan.
Agricultural processing, construction and utilities industries such as telecommunications and energy will drive job growth outside Christchurch, and be strongest in highly skilled jobs.
“Opportunities for lower-skilled workers are expected to account for more than one-third of the employment growth over the period,” said Krishnan, driven by the food processing, retailing, accommodation, agriculture and construction industries.
“Employment growth is expected to be strongest in the Auckland region, driven by growth in wholesale and retail trade, transport and storage and business services which are employment-intensive industries and in the Canterbury region, mainly in construction-related activities.”