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Earnings Up, But Job Prospects Dimming

Westpac McDermott Miller Employment Confidence, December quarter 2023

The Westpac McDermott Miller Employment Confidence Index (ECI) rose by 1.4 points to 99.7 in the December quarter. The Index remains down substantially from its peak of 115.2 in the September quarter of 2022.

“The rise in the ECI this quarter was largely due to a pickup in households’ earnings growth over the past year,” said Westpac Senior Economist Michael Gordon. “However, that was only in the context of some very weak readings in the previous two quarters.”

“We suspect that households remain mindful of the rising cost of living,” said Mr Gordon. “Even those who have managed to secure large pay rises may still feel that they are struggling to get ahead.”

Finding and holding a job remain the biggest concerns for New Zealanders in the survey. “Perceptions about job availability continued to fall in the December quarter,” noted Mr Gordon. “This likely reflects both the decline in vacancies, and increased competition for those roles as net inward migration has surged.”

“Confidence amongst employees working in the public sector remains stable, up just 0.6 points since last quarter at 102.5. In contrast, private sector employees have seen a small rise in confidence from last quarter (98.3, an increase of 2.6 points from September 2023),” observed Imogen Rendall, Market Research Director of McDermott Miller Limited.

“Public sector employees are indicating that they have real concerns regarding their future job security. It will be interesting to see what happens as the year progresses and how this impacts their overall employment confidence,” commented Ms Rendall.

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A full description of the background and specifications of the survey are attached. The survey was conducted over 1-12 December 2023, with a sample size of 1,550. An index number over 100 indicates that optimists outnumber pessimists. The margin of error of the survey is 2.5%.

Acknowledgement

The Westpac McDermott Miller Employment Confidence Index is owned by McDermott Miller Limited. Westpac McDermott Miller should be acknowledged as the source when citing the Employment Confidence Survey and Index. Graphs supplied may be reproduced by the news media provided the Westpac McDermott Miller logo remains inset.

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