1 Oct 2009

Business optimism rises, more plan to hire

7:12 am on 1 October 2009

Business confidence has hit a 10-year high despite the rising dollar and economic uncertainty, according to the National Bank Business Outlook.

A net 49% of firms expect things to look up, a level not seen since 1999, when the economy was recovering from the Asian financial crisis.

The survey, carried out this month, shows confidence among agricultural, construction and services firms rose sharply, and for the first time in 18 months, more businesses intend to hire workers over the coming year than to lay them off.

But there are unlikely to be enough jobs for all of those entering the workforce and the unemployment rate is expected to continue rising.

National Bank chief economist Cameron Bagrie warns the recovery could yet be derailed as rising interest rates and still weak consumer demand will act as a drag on the economy next year.