New Zealand economic and skills statistics published

13 June 2006

The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) has released the statistics for the first quarter of 2006. Generally, the aggressive program to recruit skilled workers and issue visas and work permits is successful. Businesses are reporting that they are experiencing far fewer vacancies than the record levels of a couple years ago.

Reports are mixed, with some sectors still having difficulty filling vacancies and others having less difficulty. Overall, there remains a skill shortage and the government is continuing with its programs to recruit foreigners. The good news is that New Zealand is still aggressively recruiting across all of its skill categories. Dozens of opportunities for foreign workers exist in a wide variety of areas.The cautious news is that there has been a very dramatic fall in vacancies over the past year. In some sectors, vacancies have fallen from 50% down to 10%. Almost all sectors still have vacancies, but a strong levelling off trend seems to be in effect.

Businesses have reported that in December 2004 they experienced a 33% difficulty in filling skilled positions, compared to a 26% difficulty in December 2005. Difficulty in filling unskilled positions fell from 17% in 2004 to 9% by December 2005.

At the same time, wages have been steadily increasing, although the news is somewhat mixed when factored against some increases in the cost of living. Overall, wages are increasing a little faster than cost of living.

These trends are expected to continue for at least the next several years. Employment and business opportunities will remain unfilled, but the gap between needed skills and available workers is steadily closing in response to the success of the programs.

New Zealand is an often over-looked opportunity for many people looking to relocate, either permanently or temporarily. The country prides itself in its quality of life and environmental standards, and holds itself to high academic standards that they have worked hard to raise over the past decade.

In December the World Bank rated New Zealand as the easiest country out of 155 to do business in. Australia ranked sixth. At the end of May, the bank released a detailed breakdown of the 2005 survey results, comparing New Zealand's performance against the OECD average.

• Starting a business (ranked 4th) – entrepreneurs can expect to go through two steps to launch a business over 12 days compared to the OECD average of 6.5 steps over 19.5 days.

• Enforcing contracts (ranked 4th) – it takes 50 days on average to enforce a contract through legal action compared to nearly 226 days in the OECD on average.

• Hiring and firing workers (ranked 4th) – for New Zealand the index measuring the ease of hiring and firing workers is 7 compared to an OECD average of 35.8 (a higher value represents more rigid employment regulations).

• Trading across borders (ranked 15th) – it takes 8 days to export a standard shipment of goods compared to 12.6 days in the OECD on average.

• Paying taxes (ranked 16th) – a medium size company must make eight payments and spend 70 hours a year paying taxes compared to 16 payments and 197 hours in the OECD on average.