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Canterbury stars in employment confidence survey

Canterbury stands out in the latest Westpac McDermott Miller employment survey, in which confidence overall stalled.

The Westpac McDermott Miller Employment Confidence Index rose to 99.1 in the December 2012 quarter from 98.9 in the September quarter.

Canterbury registered an index of 113.5, up from 110.9, and the highest of the regions surveyed.

"Employment confidence in Canterbury has risen for the third quarter in a row and the region is now the only one in the country where employment optimists clearly predominate," economist Felix Delbruck says.

The accelerating post-quake rebuild was boosting Cantabrians' assessment of job opportunities and their view of job security, he said.

But earnings expectations in the region were steady.

The only other region where employment confidence was optimistic was Wellington.

"A Hobbit effect may have helped, but there were some signs that confidence in the region may have turned the corner. Wellington was the only region to see expected job security improve from three months ago," Mr Delbruck says.

The survey was conducted between December 1 and December 10, with a sample size of 1577. An index number greater than 100 indicates that optimists outnumber pessimists.

A net 60 percent of households said that jobs are hard to get, down from 63 percent in the September quarter, and a net 6 percent said they expect them to get worse in the coming year, down from 8 percent.

However, pessimists outnumbered optimists elsewhere, with significant drops in employment expectations in the powerhouse Auckland economy, and in Northland and the Bay of Plenty.

Outside Canterbury, South Island employment expectations were downbeat "on the back of declines in perceived current job opportunities and earnings".

The Auckland index slipped from positive territory in September (100.8) to a mildly negative 96.9 in the December survey. Also slipping from mildly positive to mildly negative between the two surveys were Southland, Nelson/Marlborough/West Coast, and Southland.

Otago remained the most pessimistic about employment prospects, slipping from 97.9 on the index in September to 94.4 in December.

(BusinessDesk)

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