The ANZ says there's little sign the New Zealand job market is going to pick up significantly in the next six months, based on the results of the bank's latest job advertisement survey.
That's despite a number of positive economic indicators, including yesterday's much stronger than expected figures that showed the economy grew by 1.5% in the December quarter.
Unemployment traditionally is one of the last statistics to improve as an economy recovers.
The ANZ says its latest job ads survey shows that newspaper and internet ads rose 1% in February, following a 0.6% fall in January.
Senior economist Sharon Zollner said the monthly lift was driven by a 2% rise in internet job advertising, but the number of newspaper job ads fell by 4.4%. Both figures are seasonally-adjusted.
Newspaper advertising rose in Canterbury, which of course is now benefiting strongly from the post-earthquakes rebuild, but fell everywhere else. Online advertising rose in Auckland and Canterbury, but fell in Wellington.
Regional disparities continue to grow, Zollner said.
"As a percentage of total national newspaper advertising, Otago has fallen from 12% to 8% in just seven months, while Canterbury job ads have risen from 27% of national newspaper advertising pre-earthquakes to around 35% today. Online advertising rose in Auckland and Canterbury in February, but fell in Wellington.
"Wellington is clearly the weakest of the main centres, a trend we expect to persist, while Christchurch is the strongest," Zollner said.
The bank's "composite” total for job advertising, which places more weight on newspaper advertising, fell 1.1% on a seasonally-adjusted basis and is 7.4% lower than a year ago.
"This series continues to suggest an unemployment rate bouncing around the 7 percent mark over the next 6 months," Zollner said.
"The labour market remains the missing ingredient for a sustained upturn to take hold nationally. Regionally, the disparate job ads data underscores the difficulty the Reserve Bank is facing setting the same monetary policy for all."