Big tick for North as economy starts to boom

By Mike Dinsdale

9 comments
Tony Collins
Tony Collins

With all the economic signs up, it's just a matter of time before Northland's increased business confidence leads to more jobs, Northland Chamber of Commerce boss Tony Collins says.

And his optimism has been backed up by the latest Westpac Bank quarterly survey that has found Northlanders' economic confidence level is at its highest since 2009.

Mr Collins said the survey backed up information the chamber had been gathering that showed business confidence was at its highest for years, and it was just a matter of time before the trickle-down effect kicked in.

"And that means more jobs," he said.

"Seeing business confidence go up and consumer confidence rise will hopefully lead to an increased bottom line for business owners. The next step in that must be businesses looking to grow and employ more people. That's the next trickle-down of a growing economy."

Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens said economic confidence had improved in Northland over recent quarters. In March, optimists outnumbered pessimists for the first time since December 2009 in the latest Westpac McDermott Miller Regional Economic Confidence Survey.

"Unemployment in the region has fallen over the last year, while the housing market looks to be gradually improving after a long period in the doldrums," Mr Stephens said.

"Northlanders' confidence in their regional economy is the highest it's been since 2009. Findings show households expecting good economic times in the region over the year rose sharply from a net -18 per cent in December to a net 11 per cent in March, but still remains well below the national average of 37 per cent."

Otago was the only region that had a higher growth in consumer confidence. He said optimists outweighing pessimists was consistent with signs of improvement seen across a range of sectors in the local economy. Separately, the regional breakdown showed Northland consumer confidence rose from 115.2 in December to 123.4 in March, now sitting above the national average of 121.7.

"News that consumer confidence has picked up for a third consecutive quarter will be welcome news to local retailers," Mr Stephens said.

The survey was conducted over the period March 1-10.

Northland Regional Council economist Darryl Jones said the survey supported his data but did not include significant growth in visitor nights in Northland in January.

"In January, Northland had 344,832 guest nights, that's a 9.5 per cent increase on January 2013.

"That's a sign that the numbers are rising in a sector that's been in the doldrums since 2011 and is the first really significant rise in guest nights since 2011."

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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