A ray of sunshine for Wellington job-hunters despite unsettled outlook

Over 71,000 job vacancies in Wellington last quarter.
Over 71,000 job vacancies in Wellington last quarter. Photo credit: Getty.

Demand for skilled workers in Wellington has spiked despite falling employment, investment and profit expectations.

Over 71,000 jobs were listed for the Wellington region on the Trade Me Jobs website in the three months to 30 September 2019, up 2.6 percent on the same quarter in 2018.  

The increase in jobs advertised within the capital city is in sharp contrast to Auckland's, where the number of listings fell by 14.8 percent year-on-year.  Nationwide, the number of job listings fell by 7.8 percent.

In addition to the increase in jobs on offer in Wellington, Trade Me Jobs also reports that based on the salary band employers select on listings, average pay in the capital has increased to $73,374, up 6.1 percent compared with the same period last year.

Although just a snapshot of the wider picture, with an increase in both job numbers and average salary, Matt Tolich, spokesperson at Trade Me Jobs, said that the capital city looks like a pretty plum place to be.  

"With more jobs on offer, more money on the table and applications down 6.6 per cent on last year, it's a good time to be a job hunter in Wellington," Tolich said.

More job prospects on top of sun and wine

Trade Me Jobs data indicates that locals can chalk up job prospects as another reason to live in the sunny, vineyard-ridden city of Hawkes Bay.  

The region had an increase in job listings of almost 10 percent (9.8) compared to the third quarter of 2018, with the average salary on offer increasing by 1.9 percent, to $57,012.

Fewer jobs in Canterbury, Northland, Waikato and BOP

In the Canterbury region, Trade Me job listings fell by 11.5 percent compared with the 2018 quarter.  Similarly, in Northland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty, the number of new job listings fell between 5-6.5 percent year-on-year. 

Which sectors had the biggest increase and decrease in jobs?

The industries most affected by a decrease in new listings on Trade Me Jobs were engineering (down 23.5 percent) and sales (down 24.6 percent) year-on-year.

In contrast, government and council jobs were on the rise, up by 13.6 percent year-on-year.  In an employment report for October, SEEK also pointed to an expansion of government-related jobs.

"When comparing the September quarter of 2019 with that of a year ago, Government & Defence, and Education & Training each logged annual growth of 18 percent," the report said.

According to Trade Me data, people with experience in marketing, media and communications can feel more confident in their search, with a 10.7 percent increase in listings year-on-year.  

Tolich said that anecdotal feedback from employers suggests that despite a toughening market, skilled job-seekers in the trades and services, construction, roading, transport and logistics continue to hold their own.

Despite Wellington having bucked the trend, Rose Ryan, workforce and workplace at MBIE said that an increase in job ads may indicate job movement rather than growth in the number of jobs.

"An increase in job [ads] in a particular industry may indicate [its] expanding, or [that there's] a high rate of churn...but overall employment is not necessarily increasing." 

"Similarly, a decrease in job ads can signal reduced employment in an industry, or that the industry is using alternatives to online advertising in their hiring process, (e.g. word-of-mouth or social networks," Ryan said.

IT professionals are sitting pretty

Based on employer salary indications, the IT sector remains a lucrative field with an average pay of $112,230.  Executive and general management positions also pay well, with average salaries above $80,000.

"IT roles [made up] the five highest paid positions in the third quarter of 2019, IT project managers earning the most, with an average salary [calculated at] $145,977," Tollich said.

Average Wellington income on a par with Auckland

Based on Trade Me Jobs data for the last quarter, the average salary on offer in the city of sails is $72,161 - around $1,200 less than in the capital.

Following the minimum wage increase to $17.70 per hour in April, job ad data shows that the national average salary is $62,356, up by 2.2 percent compared with the same period last year.  

Michael Webster, Principal Analyst at MBIE said that comparing the average house-hold income for New Zealand's three-largest cities, Auckland and Wellington are almost equal.

City:                                                 Average House-hold income (2018)

Auckland                                     $117,500

Wellington                                    $117,100

Christchurch (Territorial Authority) $101,800

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.


With a growing number of companies reportedly lowering their employment expectations, combined with a flurry of job hunters expected to hit the market in early 2020, it's uncertain whether the job market will stay immune.

With demand for skilled candidates holding strong, coupled with an average salary and house-hold income that rivals Auckland, Wellingtonians are in a good position to weather tougher times ahead.