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Taranaki Trends Winter 2022 edition focuses on cost of living - Venture Taranaki

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Winter 2022 edition of Taranaki Trends, produced by Venture Taranaki, explores how our regional economy is tracking, including an in-depth and on the rise look at the cost of living in Taranaki, covering key indicators such as house prices, income, inflation, and interest rates. This edition also takes a closer look at the food production sector, identified as one of the key growth opportunities for Taranaki.

Venture Taranaki hosted an event on Wednesday, 18 May with guest speaker Sharon Zollner, ANZ Chief Economist, where they got a first look at the latest regional economic snapshot, alongside wider national economic trends and impacts delivered by Sharon.

"New Zealand is going through a challenging period, with high inflation, increased living costs and a runaway housing market, compounded by supply constraints and talent shortages, caused in part by COVID-19 restrictions. New Zealand and Taranaki are not alone with these challenges, these trends are echoed across the globe.

The latest data in Taranaki Trends comes as no surprise. As we make our food and fuel purchases and pay our rent or mortgage, no one can escape the brunt of increased living costs. The Taranaki region maintains its relatively affordable status compared with the other big centres, but that is little comfort for those struggling with increasing costs across the board," explains Venture Taranaki Chief Executive Kelvin Wright.

Since March 2021, Taranaki experienced the largest growth in median weekly rent with an 18% increase bringing the average weekly rent to $530, which is in line with average weekly mortgage repayments.

Food prices also increased 8% compared with the same period last year. Wage inflation did rise to 3% in the March quarter, the highest level since March 2009, however, this is still well below CPI of 6.9%. With many households’ wages not comparable with the increases, this significantly impacts families and adds additional financial pressures for people trying to pay rent and put food on the table.

"We acknowledge times are tough not just for Taranaki but across the motu, there are some pockets of positive news to share, such as the Taranaki unemployment rate being at a record low, sitting at 2.4%. The region now has the lowest unemployment rate in New Zealand. However, the flip side of this is a constrained labour market and large skills and talent shortages across the board," says Kelvin.

In March 2022, 54,323 jobs were filled in Taranaki, with 49% of female workers and 51% of male workers. There have been steadily growing jobs within Taranaki from 2020 to 2022. This trend is expected to continue in the coming months based on forecast growth in key sectors, increasing demand for talent, and reopening borders to migrant workers.

"We’re heartened with the recent announcement that our border will be fully open from the end of July. We look forward to welcoming back international visitors, cruise ships, and highly skilled migrant workers. The border closure has been a major challenge for many sectors and enterprises within the region, however, come July, these pressures will be relieved somewhat, and the Taranaki and New Zealand economy can focus on attracting and retaining the skills and talent required to transition to a low-emissions, high value economy," says Kelvin.

Food and beverage production, alongside farming, are also recognised as significant growth opportunities within the report having contributed $1.7bn GDP to the Taranaki economy in 2021.

"Taranaki is renowned for our food production and farming, and the industry employs 10,000 people around the maunga. Our food and fibre industry are at a pivotal time where they can leverage their existing capabilities, natural resources, and entrepreneurial spirit to explore and advance a range of value-added food and fibre opportunities to strengthen and diversify the Taranaki economy," says Kelvin.

Venture Taranaki produces Taranaki Trends as a 6-monthly economic snapshot of our region. It provides a range of metrics, represented as digestible charts and graphs, to help inform the region’s leadership, enterprises and investors.

The full Taranaki Trends Winter 2022 report is available on the Venture Taranaki website. []

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