Total job earnings increased in May, but means job growth comes at a cost - Infometrics

Total job earnings in New Zealand increased during May, but it means job growth has come at a cost.

Analysis from Infometrics said early figures for May showed signs of a tight labour market nearing capacity. Total earnings were up 17 percent in the month, with monthly earnings per filled job reaching $6035.

Earnings per job also grew 7.1 percent on average over the last 12 months.

Infometrics said that job numbers edged up in May, suggesting that New Zealand's labour market has more capacity than initially expected, with strong growth in workers aged 60 or older contributing to the additional capacity.

"One hopes that this is driven by the older population being more willing to continue working, due to improved health or a desire to contribute, rather than an inability to retire for financial reasons," they said.

"Unsurprisingly, the additional job growth has come at a much greater cost, as a tight labour market continues to push up earnings. Demand for labour remains high, and with a limited supply of workers, employers are offering higher earnings to entice new workers and existing employees."

Filled job numbers increased 2.8 percent in May, with 6900 more filled jobs than in April. The hospitality sector was a large contributor to this growth, Infometrics said, with 2300 more jobs in the sector in May compared with April.

Other large contributors were health care and education, where job numbers increased by 1200 and 1100 from April respectively.

Additionally, the number of jobs filled by workers aged 60 or more continued to grow in May, and now sits 8.5 percent above the pre-pandemic level in February 2020.

Over the same period, high earnings and a lack of low-skilled labour have seen similar growth in the number of teenagers in work, Infometrics said. Those aged 25-29 years old continued to buck the trend, with the number of jobs filled by workers in this age bracket having fallen 3.2 percent since February 2020.

Infometrics said it's positive about New Zealand's job market.

"We are optimistic about the strength of New Zealand's labour market in the face of several indicators of a looming economic downturn," they said.

"High earnings and strong demand for workers should mitigate the ill effects that slowing economic growth and rising household costs have on the broader economy."

On Wednesday, Stats NZ released employment data showing that across all industries, the number of jobs increased by 7454, or 0.3 percent, to 2.29 million filled jobs.

By industry, the largest increase in the number of filled jobs was in professional, scientific, and technical services, which saw 13,191 filled positions. Construction (up 5.4 percent), retail trade (up 3.6 percent), health care and social assistance (up 2.7 percent), and public administration and safety (up 4.7 percent) also saw the largest change in the number of filled jobs.