Employment confidence in New Zealand has turned positive for the first time since the middle of last year according to a new report, yet workers say it's more difficult to find employment.

The Westpac McDermott Miller employment confidence index increased 4.7 points to 104.4 in the March quarter. A reading over the 100-level signals optimists outnumber pessimists. 

That said, the decline in perceptions regarding current job opportunities aligns with the forecast of an increase in unemployment, said Westpac senior economist, Michael Gordon.

This was the sixth consecutive quarter where such perceptions declined, RNZ reports.

"This question is of particular interest to us because it has tended to provide a good early lead on the unemployment rate," Gordon stated.

"The latest employment confidence measure suggests a further, but still gradual, rise in unemployment in the months ahead," he added.

In addition, workers felt increasingly confident in regard to their job security and their positivity surrounding earnings growth was enhanced.

"Now with some relief coming on the inflation front, more workers are likely to feel that they're getting ahead," Westpac's senior economist went on to say.

Moreover, private sector workers' confidence increased by more than 10 points, according to McDermott Miller market research director, Imogen Rendall.

"In contrast, confidence amongst employees working in the public sector has seen only a small increase (but remained in positive territory)," Rendall stated.

The report mentioned that the survey was carried out before some of the recent announcements regarding job cuts within the public sector.

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