Media Release: Strong rebound for regional economic activity, but path ahead remains uncertain

New Zealand’s economy rebounded strongly in the September quarter, with regional economies showing renewed strength as they get back on their feet. The latest Infometrics Quarterly Economic Monitor points to a surge in activity as the economy’s resilience saw businesses and consumers swing back into action after a substantial hit in the June quarter.

This pandemic is not over yet – not by a long shot

The announcement of community transmission of COVID-19 in August has been a reality check on our progress towards recovery. With Auckland now under Alert Level 3 restrictions, and the rest of New Zealand at Alert Level 2, the economic outlook has turned darker. This note provides our initial analysis of the economic effects of the changes, as well as an update on how our view of the economic outlook is changing.

A delayed, but not denied, economic effect

New Zealand’s swift shift towards Alert Level 1 has seen the economy regain momentum more quickly than we had anticipated in the initial stages of the pandemic. Despite a feeling of cautious optimism around the country, we believe those gains will be lost as the economic realities of COVID-19 set in, with New Zealand an isolated lifeboat amid a tempest of global mayhem.

Supporting construction while rectifying state housing

A commitment from the government to build an additional 9,400 state houses over the next two years would mitigate the construction sector’s downturn, helping to prevent a repeat of the massive loss of capacity that occurred following the Global Financial Crisis. It is also an opportunity for the government to make a real difference in housing outcomes for some of society’s most vulnerable people, contributing to better wellbeing in a way that KiwiBuild was never going to do.

Upending the labour market

New Zealand has exited the Level 4 lockdown and is now in the Level 3 “waiting room”. Job losses are expected to keep rising as businesses reassess economic conditions and start to downsize. The structural changes New Zealand’s labour market will experience will be significant, as will the need for government support. In this article, we highlight some of the changing trends in the labour market.

Freight outlook post COVID-19

The movement of freight around the country has changed dramatically since the Level 4 lockdown, both in terms of the content and quantity of cargo. The most notable change, of course, is that the roads are eerily quiet because most human movements have ceased. As for remaining traffic flows, what road freight services are required to allow essential services to keep functioning, and what do we expect to happen to road freight once lockdown restrictions are uplifted? In this article we try shed some light on these questions during these very uncertain times for road freight.

COVID-19 presents a steep learning curve for education

Our $5b international education sector is a New Zealand success story, and in recent years has become a poster child for our outward-looking, globally-connected economy. But the sector is facing a steep learning curve as it seeks to adapt to lower international student arrivals and a world that is struggling to contain the spread of a pandemic.

What sectors are best equipped to work from home?

New Zealand’s Level 4 lockdown has seen non-essential businesses ordered closed or to work from isolation, causing a rapid shift in how companies across the country operate. Working from home has become the new norm, so this article looks at how many workers in each industry are likely still operating from their home office.

Well, that escalated quickly!

From a few concerns about the effects on Chinese tourism in late January to a full-blown pandemic and lockdown in New Zealand, the COVID-19 crisis has evolved rapidly over the last two months. We communicate just how quickly the economic ramifications have unfolded and examine how things might play out for the economy over the next 1-2 years.