Job seekers search overseas as opportunities dry up in New Zealand

With thousands of people being laid off in the public sector and other industries, recruitment agencies are seeing an unprecedented jump in job applications.

At the same time there's been a big drop in the number of jobs being advertised - leaving many searching for roles overseas.

There's been slashing here, there and everywhere right across the public sector. Almost 4500 jobs are gone - and counting.

"It's so disheartening. The wide-scale nature of these cuts just make it that much worse," said Fleur Fitzsimons, assistant secretary for the Public Service Association (PSA).

Fitzsimons said the PSA is supporting workers through the troubling times.

"There are whole families, both parents being public servants. They've got children, bills to pay, rent to pay. It's deeply worrying and traumatising for those individuals," she said.

But it's not just Wellington. Recruiters are seeing a significant jump in people applying for jobs nationally.

"There's definitely more candidates than there are job opportunities and we expect that to continue for a while," Robert Walters senior director Bridget Clarke said.

Data shows there's been a 112 percent surge in job applications across the country compared with this time last year. Applications in Auckland alone have nearly tripled.

"So that's fairly unheard of," Clarke said.

And it's all the more concerning as there aren't many jobs to go to. Compared with this time last year, there has been a 30 percent drop in roles advertised on Seek.

Unsurprisingly, job ads have fallen the most in Wellington, but also the West Coast.

Clark said all of this is driving people overseas and worries what it means when a lot of the axed roles inevitably return.

"The Government's been quite clear about how they want to be a delivery-focussed Government. They are going to need people to do the work, so we expect to get later on this year and there will be a shortage of candidates because they would have gone to Auckland, Australia, further afield, perhaps Europe."

Meaning what's not an easy time for employees may soon become difficult for employers.