Infometrics latest Quarterly Economic Monitor shows that regional economies such as Manawatū and Palmerston North are performing almost twice as well as the national economy.
“While the regions have been hit by COVID-19, Manawatū, Palmerston North and the wider Manawatū-Whanganui region have outperformed the national economy,” says Linda Stewart, Chief Executive of the Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA).
“It shows how the regions are driving the economy in terms of primary-related exports. Due to Manawatū’s diversified economy we can add education, public administration, research, logistics and manufacturing as well.
“While the Manawatū and Palmerston North economies have taken a hit, our economic diversity means that we are in a good position to weather the storm. It also shows the soundness of the economic development strategy that the region is following,” she says.
A useful measure is non-residential consents, which points to both infrastructure and commercial activity. While the rest of the country contracted -8.8%, in Manawatū, non-residential consents were up 57.2% and a record 84.4% in Palmerston North.
Housing consents in Manawatū are 2.5 times greater than the rest of New Zealand and an impressive 4.5 times in Palmerston North.
Ms Stewart says construction activity is not a flash in the pan.
“Construction sector jobs have expanded 86% in Palmerston North and Manawatū since 2000, creating thousands of jobs. With a multi-billion-dollar bow wave of infrastructure now starting, we have solid foundations underpinning this.
“Another measure is jobseeker claimants. The increase in job seeker benefits due to COVID-19 restrictions on business is currently half the New Zealand rate in Manawatū and impressively, 63% less in Palmerston North.”
“CEDA is not playing down the massive business impact that COVID-19 has and will continue to have upon businesses and people, especially once the Wage Subsidy dries up.
“What we’re seeing is that an Auckland or Wellington-centred view of the national economy may not deliver what the rest of the country needs to grow economically and socially out of COVID-19,” Ms Stewart said.
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