Coronavirus: New SEEK job data brings promising news for New Zealand job seekers

There's some heartening news for those looking for jobs amid the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, with job ads bouncing back to nearly double the levels seen during the alert level 4 lockdown.

New job postings on SEEK NZ over the last two weeks are up 92.7 percent on average levels in April 2020, a month in which most Kiwis spent isolating in their homes as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

SEEK NZ general manager Janet Faulding says while it's still "a long way short" of job ad levels seen before the outbreak, the bounce-back is "a positive sign" for the future.

The most promising growth was in the consumer services industry, which now makes up more than a fifth of new job listings. SEEK reports job ads in this sector increased on April levels by 175 percent.

"In the last two weeks we have seen growth in the retail and consumer products sector by almost four times the volume of the April average," Faulding said.

"As one of the sectors hardest hit by restrictions, it's good to see a positive shift, and this is translating into job opportunities [for] roles such as retail assistants, store management and merchandisers."

Other sectors to have rebounded well after lockdown include the public sector (95 percent growth), construction (81 percent), industrial (75 percent) and professional services (66 percent).

Most New Zealand regions have exhibited promising signs, Faulding says, with Canterbury (88 percent), Auckland (87 percent) and Wellington (86 percent) all showing job ad volume growth in the last two weeks.

But while things are improving, they're still a long way off the levels seen before coronavirus reached our shores. A SEEK graph shows job ads are at about 40 percent of the peak 2020 levels seen in mid-January.

Coronavirus: New SEEK job data brings promising news for New Zealand job seekers

Sharon Zollner, chief economist at ANZ, said last month that she expected the labour market to be volatile in 2020, with a spike in unemployment when the wage subsidy runs out in late June and another at the end of the subsidy extension in August.

"We see the unemployment rate remaining elevated because firms are naturally cautious in bad times," she said. "The virus shock requires reallocation of resources across the economy and reskilling and relocating isn't a fast process."

Unemployment is forecast to increase significantly in New Zealand, rising to 8.3 percent by the end of June, before peaking at 9.8 percent in September and then recovering thereafter.