Mayor's column December 2017

(Posted on: December 11)

As this year comes to a close it is great to report the latest stats show our region and District’s economy is strong and in good heart ready for 2018.

GDP growth for the District to the year ended September exceeds national GDP growth at 4.3%, (2.5% for NZ). To the year ended February 2017, 400 jobs have been created throughout our District.  This is an increase of 4.7% versus 2.4% increase in the number of jobs across New Zealand;

To the year ended September 2016, earnings from salaries and wages in the District increased by 5.8% to $383m.  Adding income from self-employed, income in the District increased by 3.1% to $526m.  The self-employment rate in the District is 28.2% versus 18% for NZ and the median annual earnings for continuing jobs is increasing at a similar rate to the national average.

Our District’s employment rate is above the national average at 68%, while our unemployment rate is estimated at 3.8%, well below the national unemployment rate of 4.6%.  There is strong evidence of a tightening labour force and skills gaps, highlighting the importance of appropriate skill development and protecting access to migrant workers at all skill levels.

Our tourism spending increased by 1.5% to the year ended September with international spending increasing by $1m from the previous year.

This growing economy is boosting both investment and spending in the District. Retail spending continues to grow at 4.1% to the year ended September. Investment in housing is still strong with 166 consents for new dwellings issued by Council to the year ended October 2017.

Average house prices have increased by 15.4% to the year ended October with the average house price now $320,089. And to the year ended September, investment in non-residential consents increased by 93% to $30m.  $14.45m of this is from the New World supermarket investment in Feilding.

Signalled investment in the District and wider Manawatu region to 2030, alongside anticipated global growth and favourable export terms of trade, will further support expansion of our economy. We do need to understand that with our growing economy, comes the risk of insufficient resources, especially labour to support this expansion.

So on this bright note, we can focus on the coming festive season. Christmas means something different for many people in our community as we have a wide diversity of cultures and beliefs. This in itself is a reason to celebrate and the festive season ahead will give us all an opportunity to take a break from everyday life, to reflect as a community on the good and the bad times, remember those who are happy or sad, the lonely, the elderly and the young. It is a time to be especially thankful for our work colleagues, friends and families and also to remember those who are dear to us but are no longer with us.

My challenge to you this Christmas is to offer something as simple as a few words of encouragement or a smile to someone you don’t know, which could make a world of difference to them.

I look forward to seeing you at our community Christmas events: Christmas Parades, Living Christmas, Carols by Candlelight and don’t forget to visit Santa’s Cave.

Thank you for always making me feel so welcome wherever I go in the District. It has been a privilege to participate in so many community meetings, functions and activities during the past year.

I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a successful, enjoyable New Year.

Helen Worboys
Mayor Manawatu District