Manufacturing improvement dominates job market data

Two of the country's most beleaguered industries show signs of life in the first batch of this week's data.

Two of the country's most beleaguered industries show signs of life in the first batch of this week's labour market data.

The number of filled jobs rose 0.4% while full-time jobs rose 0.7% in the last three months of 2012, Statistics New Zealand's quarterly employment survey shows.

The main increases in jobs are in construction, up 6.8%, wholesale trade, up 8.3%, and healthcare and social assistance, up 4.3%.

On an annual basis, average ordinary time hourly earnings rose 2.6% for the year, with the largest increase in manufacturing, up 2.9%, while retail trade rose 2.7%.

Both sectors have been the centre of some political heat, with the prospects for manufacturing, in particular, being the target of the country's main opposition parties.

On a weekly basis, the income improvement is even more pronounced. Average ordinary time weekly earnings rose 2.9% for the year, or about $29 a week.

Manufacturing ordinary time weekly earnings rose 4.1% for the year.

The overall picture in the figures is of a slow recovery. Across all sectors, the number of filled jobs is still below the peak of December 2007.

Labour costs data, also released today, shows a gradual recovery. For the year, labour costs grew 1.8% overall, with private sector wage and salary rates rising 2.0% and public sector rates rising 1.5%.

In both the labour costs data and the quarterly employment survey there is a clear sign the Canterbury reconstruction is picking up pace.  

Canterbury's job market, meanwhile, has returned to pre-earthquake levels. The number of filled jobs rose 4.7% for the year, with the main rises being in construction, healthcare and social assistance, and arts and recreation services.

Wage growth is stronger in Canterbury than elsewhere, reflecting the competition for skills to help with the rebuild.

Wage and salary rates rose 3.9% for the region's construction firms, whereas the national figure was 2.3%.

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