Employment growth in Otago had the largest decline of any
region in the country in the past three months, undermining
other economic gains.
Of the 16 regional council areas in the quarterly ASB
economic scoreboard released yesterday, Otago's employment
growth was down 9%, compared to a no-change 0% national
In a separate ANZ business outlook survey yesterday,
unemployment was also the dampener to otherwise positive
company expectations, chief economist Cameron Bagrie said.
Intentions continued to "firm" for profit (up 10%),
employment (6%) and investment (17%), but rising unemployment
data did not match those business expectations.
"Questions surround whether growth in hiring will be
sufficient to mop up new entrants into the labour market," Mr
The regional survey said Auckland retained the top spot in
the latest report, where relatively strong population growth
drove retail spending and housing market activity which
overshadowed its own relatively high unemployment rate, ASB
chief economist Nick Tuffley said.
Nationally, house sales and price rises led activity, but all
the other survey indices - employment, wages, retail sales,
car registrations and construction - were lacklustre.
Just five of the 16 regions had negative employment growth,
headed by Otago's drop of 9% and followed by Northland,
Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Waikato, all of which fell
between 2% and 5%.
"Otago is firmly middle of the pack, based on its patchy
economic performance over the last year," Mr Tuffley said.
Otago construction activity, particularly non-residential,
had been "reasonably strong", retail sales had risen
"steadily" and house prices had increased, he said.
However, there was a "sharp" employment drop to about 9%
lower than a year ago.
"That's somewhat at odds with the other regional data, which
suggests steady economic expansion, but suggests the Otago
jobs market is difficult at the moment," Mr Tuffley said.
Separate surveys earlier this month for the same previous
quarter, outlined a roller-coaster ride for the Otago
Southland manufacturing sector, from monthly expansion, to
contraction and back to expansion.