Job advertisements have declined, indicating unemployment will remain persistently high for the first half of the year.
ANZ Bank's monthly survey says job advertisements fell a seasonally adjusted 1.5% in January, with a large fall in internet job listings more than offsetting a gain in newspaper ads.
The composite index, which gives more weighting to newspaper advertisements, is down 6.4% compared with a year ago.
ANZ senior economist Sharon Zollner said the series continues to suggest an unemployment rate hovering about the 7% mark.
She said it was surprising that the boom in job advertisements appeared to be running out of puff in Canterbury.
Ms Zollner said anecdotally there is a lot of job activity in Christchurch and the figures could relate to a mismatch in skills, with some employees working 80 hour weeks.
"Maybe employers don't think it's worthwhile even advertising for some of the skills that they need and so you're seeing flat job ads, you're not seeing a big uptake in employment, but you're seeing that people who are employed are essentially doing two jobs because those skills are in such high demand."