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Yesterday, the Economic Development Committee reviewed the Dunedin City 2019 Annual Economic Profile report which showed job numbers in the city grew to 65,159 last year and the average wage climbed to $56,801 a year.
Committee chairman Cr Chris Staynes said the report showed the city had put the economic doldrums of its past, which he had lived through, behind it.
"I’m a glass half-full person, and I read in this report the city has turned a corner," he said.
However, he questioned the scope of Dunedin’s 2013-23 Economic Development Strategy that was aimed at growing jobs and salaries for the city’s residents — and he suggested a third goal for the strategy.
"Now, we have to make sure there’s more balance ... a city that is liveable," Cr Staynes said.
Business analysis contractor Benje Patterson, who presented the report, cautioned some councillors who were to keen to extend the economic strategy’s goals.
"There is a lot of momentum," he said.
"But there can be lots of cyclical factors in the short run."
Cr Andrew Whiley also cautioned over expectations that the momentum would continue unchecked; he said the tourism industry — accounting for 10.2% of the city’s jobs — could suffer for years from the Covid-19 outbreak.
Several councillors raised an issue over the report’s use of data to March 2019 and questioned whether housing remained at a more affordable level than the national average, at five times a household income, compared with 6.1 times nationally.
Cr Jim O’Malley noted it had been reported this year the median house price in the city now topped $500,000 and the median value of all residential properties in the city now beat Christchurch.
Cr Lee Vandervis said the city could be New Zealand’s best in education, and other areas, including boasting the South Island’s best natural harbour, but he was concerned Dunedin’s productivity still languished below the national average.
Also, he took issue with Cr O’Malley’s earlier assertion that the report squared up Dunedin as again being among the four main centres in New Zealand.
"If we make the right decisions here ... we could make sure that is the case," Cr Vandervis said.
During the discussion, Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said he had been "reflecting" on the report in light of the death of former Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons last week.
He said there were important aspects of life that "can’t be measured on a GDP graph".
The report under discussion was one piece in a bigger, more complex picture.