20 Mar 2013

Optimism not yet translating into jobs

7:45 pm on 20 March 2013

Firms in the services and manufacturing sector remain cautious about taking on extra workers despite a pick-up in production.

The NZ-Business New Zealand Performances of Services Index rose nearly three points to 55.5 last month, its highest level for a February since the survey began in 2007. A reading above 50 indicates the sector is expanding.

The rise was led by higher new orders and sales, while employment had its strongest showing since April last year.

Last week the bank's manufacturing index showed activity has picked up in that sector for the third month in a row.

BNZ senior economist Craig Ebert says the services sector has been positive on jobs whereas manufacturing has been less so, and both are most encouraging on production.

"We're just hoping that this will in due course start to feed into the jobs side of things," he says, "but for the moment it's still a little bit reserved."

Mr Ebert says the drought and the high New Zealand dollar are weighing on the pace of the recovery.