New Zealand employers are significantly more optimistic than they were this time last year, according to the latest Manpower Employment Outlook quarterly survey of hiring intentions.

The poll of 650 New Zealand employers shows 29 per cent expect to increase hiring in the fourth quarter of 2011, up from 26 per cent in the last three months.

The number of employers planning to decrease hiring is at 6 per cent, down from 9 per cent in the third quarter.

Once adjusted for seasonal variations, the country’s Net Employment Outlook is up four percentage points to +23 per cent for the quarter.

That is eight percentage points higher than at the same time in 2010.

Lincoln Crawley, managing director of ManpowerGroup Australia and New Zealand, believed local employers were riding a wave of enthusiasm triggered by the Rugby World Cup.

”The benefits and flow-on effects of the event are creating positive expectations among many New Zealand employers, particularly in manufacturing and hospitality,” he said.

Employers in manufacturing and services including hospitality indicated the most optimistic hiring intentions for the final three months of the year, with the Net Employment Outlook for the manufacturing sector at +33 per cent (up from +24 per cent last quarter) and +30 per cent for services (up from +23 per cent).

The Christchurch rebuild had driven much of the construction demand this year, Crawley said.

The overall employment outlook for the Christchurch region had risen 10 percentage points to +32 per cent for the fourth quarter.

”New Zealand has turned a corner after the Christchurch earthquakes at the beginning of this year.”

But Crawley warned that excitement surrounding the Rugby World Cup was only masking the external economic pressures affecting New Zealand’s neighbours, and employers were still watching what was happening globally.

”We’ve seen an upturn in contract and temporary placements, which suggest a reluctance from many employers to make more permanent hiring decisions, preferring to adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach.”

In the Asia Pacific region, New Zealand employers were one of a few to report an improved Net Employment Outlook since last quarter, exceeding the employer optimism reported in Australia (+16 per cent), China (+20 per cent), Hong Kong (+21 per cent) and Japan (+10 per cent).

– BusinessDay.co.nz