18 Jan 2016

Employee confidence back in positive territory

12:39 pm on 18 January 2016

Workers were more confident at the end of last year, with employee sentiment rebounding from a three-year low.

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The Westpac McDermott Miller employment confidence index for the three months to December rose 2.2 points to 101.5 from the previous quarter.

Westpac McDermott Miller senior economist Anne Boniface said the improvement was driven by employees feeling more secure about their own jobs and a perceived better outlook for wages.

However, she said compared with a year ago workers remained cautious about the broader employment outlook.

"That's not hard to understand. Unemployment has been creeping higher while inflation remains very low, making it more difficult for workers to negotiate large wage increases."

She said unemployment was still expected to rise this year from the current 6 percent to a peak of 6.5 percent, but relatively buoyant economic conditions may slow the rise.

The most confident region was Auckland, and the biggest improvements were in Otago and Northland, although nearly half the regions surveyed had more pessimists than optimists.