New Zealand Jobs Outlook 2018-19

ApplyDirect takes a closer look at the health of New Zealand’s labour market, which reveals a robust economy yet one growing slower than in recent years.

As our closest neighbour both geographically and culturally, New Zealand has long been a popular destination for Aussies looking for adventure without having to travel too far from home. As a developed, first world economy with stunning landscapes and friendly locals, it’s also a top choice for Australians seeking a slightly different environment in which to live or work (the reverse is also very true). Whether you’re considering “crossing the ditch” yourself for an even more laid back pace of life or are just curious at how our nearby neighbours are doing, ApplyDirect takes a closer look at the state of the Kiwi economy, its labour market and the overall outlook for New Zealand Jobs in the financial year ahead (2018-19).


The New Zealand Labour Market: Tight, following years of strong growth

It wasn’t all that long ago when New Zealand was dubbed the “rock star” economy of the developed world, with its GDP expanding by an impressive 4% on average between 2014-2017 – a rate much faster than other OECD nations in Europe, North America and Australia at the time.

Despite having entered recession during the 2009-10 global financial crisis (GFC), New Zealand’s economy bounced back strongly from 2012 onwards, off the back of controversial reforms to the country’s labour market, taxation laws and a China-led commodities boom. The result is in Mid-2018, the New Zealand labour market is tight and its unemployment rate stands at 4.4% - the lowest level in nine years. It’s also a full percentage point below Australia’s jobless rate at 5.5% as of May 2018.

However, not all is as rosy as it seems, with around 550,000 Kiwi workers considered to be “underemployed”, or unable to work as many hours as they wish. Overall, if you’re a skilled professional, especially in the Construction, Healthcare and Service sectors, finding a job in New Zealand should still be fairly straightforward.

The New Zealand Economy: Still robust, but down from recent heights

From recent highs of 4% year-on-year GDP growth, New Zealand’s economy has slowed down to a more modest rate of 2.7% in the year ended March 2018. Much of this growth was driven by the services sector – with professional services and telecommunications leading the way, followed by the construction sector (with a large concentration in the huge Canterbury earthquake reconstruction projects) and continued growth in business investment.

Against this slightly subdued backdrop, economists are predicting the Kiwi economy to continue expanding in the 2-3% per annum range for the next three years to 2021, which mirrors the average rate for other developed nations and in good news for those seeking jobs in New Zealand, this should keep the already low unemployment rate stable. The biggest dangers to this 8 year expansion lie not within the economy itself but from external factors – most notably increasing trade tensions around the world and also a possible downturn in the Chinese economy, which remains New Zealand’s 2nd biggest trading partner.

The New Zealand Economy: Wages still an issue despite years of growth

Despite New Zealand’s good economic fortune over recent years, the low wage growth of its workforce remains an ongoing issue that’s caused considerable angst and led to an interesting and unexpected result in last year’s general election.

With house prices having boomed across the nation, especially in Auckland and basic essentials such as utilities also having experienced sharp rises, the average pay packet for Kiwi workers only increased 0.7% in calendar year 2017. The pay gap between New Zealand and Australia also remains huge, with Aussies getting paid on average 30% more for doing the same jobs.

However, the new Labour government which came into office late last year has pledged to increase the country’s minimum wage in 5 stages from $15.75/hour as of late 2017 up to $20/hour by 2021. Economist’s predict this move will place upward pressure on wages across the board, increasing disposal incomes and making New Zealand jobs even more attractive.

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