2 Feb 2010

Job market still feeling effects of recession

11:08 pm on 2 February 2010

Effects of the recession are still being felt in the job market, new figures from Statistics New Zealand show.

Hours worked declined in the final three months of 2009, while wage growth fell to its lowest level in eight years last year.

Annual wages and salaries grew by 1.8% in 2009. Public sector pay rose 2.4% - its lowest rate of growth in five years. Pay in the private sector increased by 1.6% - the lowest growth in nearly nine years.

Hours worked fell 0.3% in the final three months of last year after recovering slightly in the previous September quarter.

The job market weakness comes despite the New Zealand economy pulling out of recession midway through last year.

Economists had been expecting an increase in hours worked in line with a recovery in production.

However, Employers and Manufacturers employment manager David Lowe says firms are still nervous about hiring.

"While people are feeling positive about the year ahead, that hasn't translated into actual new orders right across the board. There are pockets of it, but it's just not a widespread enough improvement."

The Council of Trade Unions says weak wage growth could hit firms' sales and undermine the recovery.