The Northern Employers & Manufacturers Association says a big drop in inquiries about redundancies may be a sign the worst of the recession is over.
Earlier this year, the association was inundated with calls on how to manage job losses and restructuring.
Spokesman David Lowe says there have been fewer calls over the past month.
He says it appears most employers have made adjustments for the recession and the worst may be over as far as planning for job losses is concerned.
However, he says the number of jobless is likely to keep rising, as those who receive redundancy pay may take weeks to sign up with Work & Income.
He says the 90 day probation period for new employees has also given small businesses more confidence to hire people.