An economist says a two-speed labour market is developing as a result of regional economic disparity.
The Westpac McDermott Miller Employment Confidence Index shows people's perceptions of their current job opportunities have improved, but they are still downbeat.
The index rose to 100.7 in the three months to March, up from 99.1 in the December quarter.
A number above 100 indicates that optimists outnumber pessimists.
However the number of people who expect job opportunities to deteriorate over the next year increased a net 6% to 12% for the quarter.
Westpac senior economist Felix Delbruck says reports of recent job cuts and also concerns over the North Island drought could be affecting peoples optimism.
He says regional disparities in confidence mirror the two-speed pattern of the country's economic growth.
He says it's also a two speed labour market, with labour tight in Canterbury.
"For a while we've seen signs of wage pressures increase in the Canterbury region - we know that businesses in Canterbury are clamouring to get qualified staff."
He says although the labour market is weak in other parts of the country, there could be an issue with getting people to move to where the jobs are.
In terms of earnings expectations, he says they've taken a "decent step up" in Canterbury, but they're not spreading to other parts of the country.
Mr Delbruck says there is also disparity in employment confidence between men and women.