A recruitment firm says business confidence is not translating into firms hiring more staff.
The quarterly Hudson report of employment and HR trends shows that 70% of employers are upbeat about the economy, but 60% have more stringent head-count approvals and a third are taking longer to make hiring decisions.
Hudson's Roman Rogers says businesses will need to see a series of quarters of growth before taking a risk and investing in new people.
Mr Rogers says while overall confidence is growing, there are still swings from quarter to quarter.
He says at this stage businesses are potentially growing but doing it within their existing structures, rather than significantly increasing their workforces.
Mr Rogers says South Island hiring is down on the previous quarter because businesses in Canterbury have got more of an idea about what they need from a workforce.
He says the trend of people leaving Canterbury is starting to reverse, which is good given the skills shortage there.
Mr Rogers says sectors not directly related to rebuilding are starting to show signs of improvement, which gives a sense that Christchurch has reached a turning point.