Location of fastest job growth may surprise

Jobs growth has been widely spread across New Zealand over the past year. In fact, 54 of New Zealand’s 66 territorial authorities (excluding Chatham Islands) recorded positive jobs growth in the June 2021 quarter compared to a year earlier, according to Statistics New Zealand data.

Who had the fastest growth?

Of those places that saw more jobs, surprisingly Westland topped the list. The growth was fuelled by opportunities from higher agricultural commodity prices and an expanding population, which offset dire conditions for tourism companies down the glacier end of the district.

Many other places to also see rapid growth in job numbers were those with a heavy orientation towards primary industries experiencing good returns, and areas that focus on processing of those products. There were also places with increasing demand because they have attracted a large cohort of regional migrants seeking out lifestyle – these areas include Gisborne, the Wairarapa (Carterton), Tauranga, and parts of Northland.

Where did job numbers decline?

At the other end of the scale, the few places to see a reduction in filled jobs tended to fall into two camps. In one camp, there were areas that have faced a curtailing of economic activity because of fewer international visitors (such as Queenstown, Kaikoura, and Mackenzie). The other camp largely seemed to capture locations that have been struggling to find workers to fill vacancies, as border closures reduced the flow of seasonal and other migrant workers. These areas were particularly focussed on agriculture and horticulture, and include places like Central Otago and Marlborough.

It may seem strange that there were fewer jobs in Wellington City. This may be because of a decline within the city’s hospitality sector due to fewer visitors and more people working from home in the suburbs and surrounding districts. We also know anecdotally that Covid-19 has caused a rapid changing of attitudes among public sector employers to remote working arrangements. The result may be there are also more people working in other parts of the country in roles that had previously only been possible to perform when living in the broader Wellington region.

The months ahead

We will get a full update of what has been happening on the ground within territorial authorities in the September quarter at the next release of Business Employment data from Statistics New Zealand on December 10. This data will include the first six weeks since the Delta Covid outbreak.

Partial indicators to date since June, however, has shown that employment trends across the country have generally remained resilient since lockdown. Not only have resurgence wage subsidies supported retention of staff, but businesses have been better equipped this time round to operate under uncertain conditions.

Of course, not all businesses have survived, and some sectors (such as hospitality) have been worse hit than others. But by and large employment demand remains strong throughout the country, and the challenge for employers will continue to be finding the right people to match into the roles they have available.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you want more insight into employment trends in your local area. Pasted below is the complete list of jobs growth across all areas for those interested.