Tamaki Makaurau – Unemployment is at a record low, annual Kiwi wage growth reaches a 10-year high and retail sales have mostly recovered since the covid lockdown last year, according to the ASB Bank’s latest report.Canterbury retains its top spot on the scoreboard after being in the top three positions in the past three quarters.
Manawatū-Whanganui is the only region to equal or outperform national averages across all variables, retaining second place.
Taranaki is this quarter’s biggest mover – driven by non-residential construction.
The unemployment rate remains low across the country this quarter, falling to a record 3.2 percent. Despite this, employment growth varied across the regions, ranging from a 5.4 percent annual increase in Northland to a 5.1 percent annual decrease in Gisborne.
Meanwhile, wages continued to rise for the three months ending December 2021, with 2.8 percent annual wage growth across the country – the biggest uplift in more than a decade with stronger growth to come.
Construction followed suit with 24 percent annual growth nationally. Northland and Taranaki recorded the largest construction increases driven by significant increases in non-residential projects across both regions.
ASB says there are promising, economic headwinds ahead. In the short-term, rising inflation means real wages for most households will go backwards and, as a result, consumer spending power will take a temporary hit.
Retail sales across the country have mostly recovered this quarter following the easing of covid restrictions across the country.
The past eight months have been tough for retailers, with the majority of the country facing heightened covid restrictions of some kind since August last year.
It’s certainly been hardest on those in Auckland with lockdowns limiting trade the longest.
The good news is spending has bounced back this quarter as we’ve recorded a 7.3 percent annual increase nationally.
Another robust performance from Canterbury this quarter sees the region hold onto its crown for the second consecutive quarter, with annual house price growth up 36 percent – almost 10 percent higher than the national average.
Top five results across employment, construction, retail trade and consumer confidence also contributed to the region’s strong position.