The index rose 1.1 points to 106.1 in the June quarter, indicating a growing number of optimists about the state of New Zealand’s employment prospects, with Christchurch data included for the first time since the February earthquake.
The lift in confidence was largely due to workers being more optimistic about the job market going forwards, with the future expectations index gaining 2 points to 120.1.
That overshadowed a gloomier view of current conditions, with the present conditions index declining 0.3 points to 85.1.
A reading below 100 indicates pessimists outnumber optimists.
“Job market confidence would seem to be crucial for a pickup in household spending, and as such today’s numbers support the body of evidence pointing to a lift in the domestic economy from its late 2010 lows,” said Dominick Stephens, senior economist at Westpac Banking Corp.
“Households’ ongoing downbeat assessment of current employment conditions is also a reminder that the economy is lifting off a very subdued base.”
Today’s data echo improvements in households with consumer confidence index gaining 14.1 points to 112 in the June quarter, according to another Westpac McDermott Miller survey, the highest level since the September quarter last year.
Drilling into the data, a net 11.1 per cent expect jobs nationwide to be more plentiful in a year’s time, up from 7.1 per cent in the March quarter, and a net 12 per cent expect their own jobs to be more secure in a year, up from 10.3 per cent.
Those with jobs have become more upbeat on their future earnings, with a net 37.3 per cent of respondents expecting to take home a larger pay packet in a year’s time, up from 36.9 per cent in the first quarter.
“While post -quake reconstruction was always going to lead to an employment boom, the survey responses from Christchurch show that job opportunities may already be emerging a little sooner than expected,” Stephens said.
Within the present conditions index, a net 53.7 per cent said jobs were harder to get at the moment, marginally higher than the 53.3 per cent recorded in the previous quarter.
Meanwhile 23.9 per cent of respondents with jobs said they had seen their earnings go up since a year ago, marginally less than last quarter’s 24 per cent.