The East Coast booming as record wages entice job hunters - TradeMe

Record wages are enticing Kiwis to consider career options but there's one stand-out area in New Zealand where job hunters are booming.

The East Coast of the North Island is seeing a surge of job applications with the likes of Gisborne and Hawke's Bay seeing an increase in both average wages and job applications, according to the latest Trade Me Jobs data.

But it's not just the East Coast recording a surge of job hunters - every region across the country saw Kiwis "dusting off their CVs".

Trade Me Jobs spokesperson, Patrick Cairns, said the quarter ending December 31 (Q4) marks a "significant turning point for the market".

"Following years of pandemic-fuelled uncertainty in the jobs market, things really turned around in the second half of 2022 with thousands of Kiwi dusting off their CVs and applying for a new role," he said. 

"This will be music to the ears of businesses that have struggled to fill vacancies."

Trade Me Jobs spokesperson Patrick Cairns.
Trade Me Jobs spokesperson Patrick Cairns. Photo credit: Supplied


In Q4 of 2022, the national average salary reached a new all-time high of $67,562, a one percent increase of $613 compared to the same period in 2021.

It follows a one percent decrease year-on-year decrease in Q3.

Gisborne saw its average salary jump eight percent, followed by Hawke's Bay, Nelson/Tasman and Otago which all saw average salaries climb seven percent year-on-year.

While most regions saw pay bumps, Auckland (down three percent) and Wellington (down five percent) were the exceptions.

"Despite the drops, these remained the two highest paying regions, with Auckland's average salary at $69,374 and Wellington’s at $69,734," Cairns said.

Salary data by region - Q4 2022 (* record high).
Salary data by region - Q4 2022 (* record high). Photo credit: Supplied/TradeMe

The sectors that saw the biggest year-on-year pay increase were tourism and hospitality growing nine percent to reach a record average of $58,994.

The engineering sector's average salary grew eight percent year-on-year to $87,571, followed by seven percent increases in Transport & Logistics ($62,402) and Manufacturing & Operations ($60,073).

However, Cairn expects the salary boom to slow down this year.

"Despite reaching an all-time high in Q4, the rate of salary growth is already showing signs of slowing down and we are likely to see this continue in the new year," he said.

Applications and listings

Cairns said with the sky-high salaries and lockdowns becoming a distant memory, Kiwis are making the most of the current market conditions - and it's good news for employers looking for new talent.

TradeMe found the average number of job applications per listing increased by 38 per cent year-on-year this quarter, marking the second uptick in a row.

"While the Q4 increase marks a significant turning point for the market, it's important to remember that in the last few months of 2021, we were preparing for Omicron to hit our shores and the outlook for the new year was uncertain," Cairns said.

Looking around the country every region saw an annual increase in applications in Q4.

Gisborne (up 58 percent), Hawke's Bay (up 56 percent), West Coast (up 53 percent) and Auckland (up 50 percent) saw the biggest jumps.

While Canterbury (up 23 percent), Taranaki (up 22 percent) and Manawatū/Whanganui (up 20 percent) saw the smallest increases.

Application data by region - Q4 2022 vs Q4 2021.
Application data by region - Q4 2022 vs Q4 2021. Photo credit: Supplied/TradeMe

It was the same story across the sectors, Cairns said, with nearly every category seeing applications climb year-on-year. 

For TradeMe's largest sector, trades and services, applications increased by 55 percent in Q4.

The retail sector was the only sector to record a decrease in average applications per listing, declining by four percent.

However, the number of listings took a hit, with the number of jobs listed onsite nationwide falling by 12 per cent when compared with the same period in 2021.

Cairn said this is mostly a result of the market finding its feet after the "sugar rushes" experienced during the pandemic.

"With the border open now too, employers around the country are seeing the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel," Cairns said.

"There's no denying it's still a competitive market for employers, but with applications on the rise across the board, our data shows it is a great time to be looking for talent. For those businesses that have attempted to hire over the past couple of years but had little success, our numbers show it might be worth trying again in 2023."