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3 Background Employment forecasts over the three years to March are presented in this report. These employment forecasts will inform the Ministry s advice relating to immigration priorities, and priority setting for tertiary education and industry training over the next 2-3 years. The Ministry uses a short-term forecasting model that draws on the latest macroeconomic forecasts by the Treasury and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, covering overall GDP growth as well as detailed forecasts of terms of trade, exchange rates and interest rates. 2 The detailed macroeconomic forecasts enable economic activity in broad industries to be forecast consistent with overall economic growth. The Ministry used model-based forecasts of industry level economic activity and productivity (the latter moderated by the Ministry following an analysis of other forecasts produced for individual sectors) to derive forecasts of industry employment. The industry level employment forecasts are then used to forecast employment by occupations and by skill levels by using occupational shares across industries. The forecasts suggest overall employment demand will be strong in the near term in response to domestic-focused growth supported by strong activity in the construction, private services and hospitality industries. Employment growth has peaked in the 2015 March year and is forecast to decline over the next three years. Key points Employment growth peaked between 2014 and 2015 March years at 3.4 per cent, the highest growth rate since Over the next three years, employment is forecast to grow by 2.3 per cent (or 52,400) between 2015 and 2016 March years, by 1.8 per cent (or 42,300) between 2016 and 2017 and by 1.2 per cent (or 29,500) between 2017 and The unemployment rate is expected to decline, falling to 5.3 per cent in March quarter 2016, and to 5.2 per cent in March quarter 2017 with strong participation. In March quarter 2018, the rate rises slightly to 5.3 per cent when employment growth slows. Strong employment growth is expected in the construction and utility industry along with the hospitality sector, wholesale & retail trade and business services over the next 2-3 years. Growth in demand for employment in highly skilled occupations (mostly managers and professionals) will be higher than the overall employment growth. It will average about 2.5 per cent per annum over the period and account for more than 58 per cent of the overall employment growth over the next 3 years. Highly skilled occupations made up about 42 per cent of the overall employment share in 2015 and are forecast to rise to 43 per cent over the next three years. Opportunities for lower-skilled workers are expected to account for about 26 per cent of the employment growth over this period. The food processing, retailing, accommodation, business services and construction industries are expected to create most of these opportunities. Lower-skilled occupations accounted for about 46 per 1 All forecasts in this report are presented on a year to 31 March basis which is an average for the entire period (i.e. Annual Average Percentage Change) and not a point-to-point change which compares the March quarter result with the March quarter of the previous year. This is done to be consistent with the Treasury s GDP growth forecasts which are on a year to 31 March basis. 2 Forecasts were completed in July 2015 using Treasury s forecasts of quarterly GDP growth in the 2015 Budget Economic and Fiscal Update (May 2015). 3

4 cent of the overall employment share in 2015, which is forecast to fall to 45 per cent by March Regional employment growth over the next three years is forecast to be spread across many regions. The rate of employment growth will be concentrated and strongest in the Otago/Southland, Waikato and Canterbury regions. The Auckland region will account for more than a third of the overall growth during the three years. The main downside risks are weaker export prices and uncertainties about economic growth in New Zealand s main trading partners such as Australia and China, along with the Greek debt crisis in the Eurozone. On the domestic front, construction activity will continue to drive growth but is likely to ease over the next three years in the Canterbury region, with Auckland region expected to ramp up. Subdued growth in residential investment, business investment and private consumption, as well as fiscal restraint is also likely to moderate the growth of the national economy over the forecast period. Economic growth is moderating but key drivers remain strong The 2015 Budget Economic and Fiscal Update (BEFU) by the Treasury forecast that the economy will grow by 2.8 per cent in the year to March 2016 and remain around that level in the next two years (Table 1). The outlook in the short-term is slightly weaker than in the December 2014 Half-Year Economic and Fiscal Update, but major drivers related to construction and tourism and net migration remain strong. Global economic growth in 2015 is marginally lower than in In its latest World Economic Outlook (July 2015), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects a modest growth in 2015 due to weaker growth in advanced economies and slowdown in emerging markets. Global growth is now forecast to be 3.3 per cent in 2015 (down from 3.5 per cent in the April 2015 forecast) and 3.8 per cent (down from 3.9 per cent) in 2016 calendar year. The 2016 growth forecast for advanced economies ranges from 1.7 per cent for the Euro area (up from 1.6 per cent in the April forecast), 2.2 per cent for the UK (down from 2.3 per cent) to 3.0 per cent for the USA (down from 3.1 per cent in the April forecast). Growth in emerging and developing economies, such as China and India, is projected to slow, reflected in lower commodity prices, rebalancing in China and economic uncertainty related to geopolitical factors. Along with a lowered global economic outlook and modest growth amongst trading partners, prices for some of the key New Zealand exports have also declined and businesses in New Zealand are not as confident as they were a year ago. The likelihood of further slowing of economic growth amongst some trading partners, uncertainty in the Eurozone and weaker dairy prices could impact adversely on the demand and returns for New Zealand exports. Table 1: GDP forecast, employment and productivity changes (March years) Annual average percentage change (%) (%) (%) (%) GDP growth (Treasury) 3.2% 2.8% 2.8% 2.7% Labour Productivity (MBIE) 0.7% 0.5% 1.0% 1.5% Employment growth (MBIE) 3.4% 2.3% 1.8% 1.2% Source: The Treasury; MBIE, Short-term employment model 4

5 The Canterbury rebuild will continue to provide a substantial boost to employment growth but building and construction activity is forecast to be mainly driven by Auckland residential construction over the next three years. 3 Increasing tourism activity is also likely to offset construction activity coming off the peak and the recent weakening of the dairy industry due to drought conditions and falling export prices. In the year to June 2015, visitor arrivals to New Zealand have risen sharply (up 7 per cent). This sharp increase was matched by an increase in visitor expenditure and average length of stay, resulting in growth in travel services exports. According to the Treasury s June 2015 Monthly Economic Indicator, international travel services exports rose by 13.7 per cent to $10.7 billion (13.7%) in the year ended March The outlook for hospitality and tourism-related industries is also likely to be positive as the Ministry s tourism forecasts 4 for the period show visitor arrivals growing at around 4 per cent a year to reach 3.8 million by 2021 from 2.9 million in International visitor spending is also forecast to increase by 48.5 per cent on the 2014 total spend to $11.1 billion in with employment growth slowing Employment growth eases considerably from 3.4 per cent in the 2015 March year to 2.3 per cent in the 2016 March year. This growth is forecast to slow further to 1.8 per cent in the 2017 March year, and to 1.2 per cent in the 2018 March year (see Table 1). These reflect the latest GDP growth forecast by the Treasury for Budget 2015, which show a slower growth path than in the Half Year Economic and Fiscal update in December Employment is forecast to increase by 124,200 between 2015 and 2018, but at different levels across sectors and regions. The average employment growth rate of 1.8 per cent per annum over the period is well below the pre-recession average employment growth rate of 2.8 per cent over the period (see Figure 1). Part of this can be attributed to higher labour productivity over the forecast period compared to the pre-recession period. This employment growth forecast excludes job opportunities that will arise as workers retire. The Ministry estimates that this additional demand due to those retiring is likely to be about 30,000 jobs per year over the coming years. While employment could rise by 52,400 in the 2016 March year, another 30,000 people may be required to replace those retiring from the labour force. High levels of net migration in the near term are likely to meet some of this demand. but holding a rise in unemployment at bay Steady employment growth (see Figure 1), balanced by high labour force participation and strong population growth (resulting from high net migration), is forecast to lead to a drop in the unemployment rate to 5.3 per cent in March quarter 2016 (see Figure 2), then to 5.2 per cent in March quarter In March quarter 2018 the unemployment rate is forecast to return to 5.3 per cent as the employment growth slows Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (May 2015). New Zealand Tourism Forecasts

6 Figure 1: Employment growth (annual average % change) Forecast Source: HLFS, Statistics New Zealand; MBIE forecasts Figure 2: Unemployment rate (% of labour force) Forecast Source: HLFS, Statistics New Zealand; MBIE forecasts 6

7 with construction, hospitality and other private services as pace setters About a quarter of the total employment growth over the next three years to March 2018 is forecast to occur in construction and related activities. Construction activities across New Zealand are likely to continue to grow, with Auckland taking up most of the pace. This is primarily driven by residential construction demand in the Auckland region and initially, the Canterbury rebuild. The Canterbury rebuild is forecast to peak in 2016 and construction activity will remain at this high level throughout the forecast period. Over the forecast period, employment growth is expected to be strongest in the construction and utility industry, followed by the hospitality and other private services. Other private services as a whole will account for about 21 per cent of the total employment growth over the forecast period due to the size of this industry group. Employment growth is also expected across the public sector services along with wholesale and retail trade industries (see Table 2 and Figure 3). Table 2 shows that employment growth rate is weighted towards the construction, hospitality and other private services sectors. This growth pattern will have different effects on employment at a regional level, with construction and service-focused regions such as Auckland, Canterbury and Waikato, benefitting most from these industry trends over the forecast period. Table 2: Employment growth by aggregated industries, March years Aggregated Industry (ANZSIC06 based) (000) (%) (000) (%) (000) (%) (000) (%) Primary production % % % % Primary processing % % % % Other manufacturing % % % % Construction and utility % % % % Wholesale & retail trade % % % % Hospitality % % % % Transport and storage % % % % Other private services % % % % Core government sector % % % % Health and education % % % % Other public services % % % % Total % % % % Source: MBIE, Short-term employment model 5 Other private services include employment in the Communication services, Finance & Insurance sector, Property services and the Business services. 6 Other public services include employment in the Cultural and Recreational services as well as Personal and Community services. 7

8 Figure 3: Employment changes by aggregated industries 2015 to 2018 and strong prospects for highly skilled (managers/professionals) occupations and skilled (trades) workers During the three years to March 2018, employment growth in highly skilled jobs will be consistently stronger than overall employment growth (see Table 3 and Figure 4) and will be about 2.5 per cent on average over the three years to March Employment growth through this period is weakest for semi-skilled jobs (mainly clerical workers and some workers in service-related and primary production industries). Growth in demand for skilled (trades) workers is forecast at 2.3 per cent in the year to 2016 (down from 3.2 per cent in the March 2015 forecast), and to soften to 1.8 per cent in the year to March 2018, as the Canterbury rebuild tails-off and overall construction activity and primary production and processing growth slows. The anticipated growth in highly-skilled jobs is reflected in the Ministry s Jobs Online statistics which show that skilled job vacancies advertised online increased by 3.8 per cent in the year to June Table 3: Employment growth (percentage) by skill level, March years Skill-level (ANZSCO based) (000) (%) (000) (%) (000) (%) (000) (%) Highly skilled % % % % Skilled % % % % Semi-skilled % % % % Elementary skilled % % % % Total % % % % Source: MBIE, Short-term employment model and occupational/skill decomposition. 7 The forecasts shown for occupational employment and summarised to broad skill levels in Table 3 using 3-digit ANZSCO (Australia New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations) are based on recent analysis incorporating the 2013 Census data on occupational shares across industries. 8 Jobs Online Monthly Report - Monthly report - NZ Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment 8

9 Figure 4: Employment changes by skill levels 2015 to 2018 with some opportunities for lower-skilled workers Opportunities for lower-skilled workers (that is, semi-skilled and elementary workers) are expected to account for about 26 per cent (or 32,700 workers) of the total employment growth of 124,200 during the three years to March Employment in lower-skilled occupations is forecast to fall slightly to from about 46 per cent of the overall employment share in 2015, to 45 per cent by March The industries likely to have the greatest opportunities for lower-skilled workers include food processing, retailing, accommodation, agriculture and construction. and additional employment opportunities from retirement Highly-skilled workers will have the highest retirement demand, accounting for 12,000 out of the estimated 30,000 total, and skilled-workers will have the highest retirement rate (see Table 4). Table 4: Retirement demand by skill-level, annual average Skill-level (000) (%) Highly-skilled % Skilled 5 1.5% Semi-skilled 8 1.2% Elementary skilled 5 1.3% Total % Source: MBIE, Cohort component model using 7-yearly Census age cohorts with Auckland, Waikato, Canterbury and Otago/Southland regions accounting for a large share During the three years to March 2018, regional employment growth is forecast to be spread across many regions. But employment growth in Auckland, Canterbury, Waikato and Otago/Southland regions is expected to account for almost 80 per cent of the total employment growth (see Table 5). 9

10 Auckland will continue to drive national employment growth over the forecast period due to its large size and share of employment in many industries that are likely to grow strongly, such as construction, wholesale and retail trade, transport and storage, hospitality, and other private services. Employment in Auckland is forecast to increase by 1.9 per cent per year, making up 37.9 per cent of the total increase over the next three years to March Waikato will also contribute strongly to national employment growth over the forecast period. The region is anticipated to grow at 2.9 per cent per annum (or about 4,800 people per year) to March 2018, with strong employment growth in the region s construction (up 3.9 per cent), health and community services (up 3.9 per cent), hospitality (up 3.7 per cent), retail trade (up 2.9 per cent), and manufacturing (up 2.7 per cent) industries as key drivers. Waikato makes up 11.5 per cent of the total increase in employment over the forecast period. Rebuild activity will continue to drive employment growth in Canterbury over the next two years. However, employment growth is expected to slow after rebuilding activity reaches its peak in Over the forecast period, employment is forecast to grow by 2.2 per cent on average (or about 6,100 people a year), with most of this in construction-related activities, business services and manufacturing. The Canterbury region will account for about 15 per cent of the total increase in national employment over the forecast period. Hospitality, wholesale and retail trade and construction activities are anticipated to increase employment at an average of 3.1 per cent per annum in the Otago/Southland region, with 19,200 more people employed over the forecast period. The region s food and beverage industry is also forecast to grow by 4.7 per cent per year between 2015 and Compared with the other regions, the Otago/Southland region is forecast to show the strongest employment growth over the forecast period (see Table 5). Overall, regions that have a high concentration of employment in lower-growth industries such as primary production and certain primary processing are forecast to have overall slower employment growth over the forecast period compared to other regions. Regions with a high concentration of employment in high-growth sectors such as, construction and other private services are likely to see faster employment growth relative to other regions. Table 5: Employment growth by region, three years to March 2018 Regions (000) (AAPC*) Northland % Auckland % Waikato % Bay of Plenty % Gisborne/Hawkes Bay % Taranaki % Manawatu-Wanganui % Wellington % Nelson/Marlborough/Tasman/West Coast % Canterbury % Otago/Southland % Total % Source: MBIE Labour, Short-term employment model and regional decomposition. * AAPC Annual Average Percentage Change 10

11 Caveats The employment forecasts included in this report are based on forecasts of quarterly GDP growth, contained in the 2015 Budget Economic and Fiscal Update (BEFU) released by the Treasury in May The Treasury forecasts released in mid-may 2015 were updated by the Ministry with the March 2015 quarter GDP results released in mid-june TWI, terms of trade and 90-day rates were based on the forecasts reported in the Reserve Bank of New Zealand s June 2015 Monetary Policy Statement.

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