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Provincial employment growth rises faster than urban growth in 2019

Infometrics’ recent Regional Economic Profiles refresh shows that employment in 2019 across provincial New Zealand rose at a faster pace than urban growth for the first time since 2011.

Provincial employment growth holds up better than urban centres

Over the 12 months to March 2019, jobs growth slowed to just under 2%pa nationally. But for the first time in eight years, provincial parts of New Zealand saw faster employment growth than urban centres. Urban centre employment rose 1.9%pa in in the March 2019 year, compared to 2.1%pa growth in provincial New Zealand (see Chart 1).

Employment growth focused on the periphery of urban centres

The largest changes in job numbers across the country were generally in areas on the fringes of key urban centres, where new opportunities are emerging as growth in the regions shifts ahead and housing is relatively cheaper.

Queenstown-Lakes District had the largest growth in employment in the March 2019 year, with job numbers up 5.6%pa. Western Bay of Plenty District was second (up 4.0%), followed by Selwyn District (up 3.8%), Tasman District (up 3.7%), and Waikato District (3.4%, see Chart 2).

Employment growth was widespread throughout New Zealand over the March 2019 year. In 2019, only one local council area out of a total of 66, experienced a decline in employment. This is the best outcome for the provinces since our regional data begins in 2000. Ōpōtiki District was the only area with a drop in employment, and the number of jobs lost was negligible. Since 2000, the total sum of jobs lost across provincial areas has ranged from 54,600 in 2009 (as a result of the Global Financial Crisis) to 216 in 2018.

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