The latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey has found 14% of employers are expecting to hire staff in coming months, a rise from 12% last quarter.
Overall, however, the survey of 720 New Zealand businesses found a net 1% of firms intended to shed workers.
Manpower New Zealand sales and marketing general manager Chris Riley says the manufacturing, and transport and utilities sectors are leading the way with hiring intentions
But companies' hiring intentions are still weaker than they were this time last year, he says, when a net 8% of firms expected to hire workers.
The survey shows 18% of the employers in the manufacturing industry plan to hire staff, up 6% from the last quarter.
But the Council of Trade Unions is less optimistic about the survey results and a revised forecast by the Treasury on unemployment, now expected to peak at 7.5% instead of 8%.
The union says 7.5% equates to 170,000 people out of work - and it is no time for celebration.