Growing confidence in the Bay of Plenty's economy has sparked more job vacancies, with one local employer desperately searching for an extra staff member "dead or alive".
The latest Westpac-McDermott Miller regional economic confidence survey found 37 per cent of Bay of Plenty households expected the region's economy to improve in the next 12 months, eight per cent more than the September quarter survey.
Most of those surveyed also expected their own financial situation to improve in the next year, the report revealed.
Westpac's chief economist Dominic Stephens said greater confidence in the region reflected increased business activity, and also led to the creation of more jobs.
Tauranga recruitment agency 1st Call Recruitment's managing director Phill Van Syp said 2018 was the firm's "busiest year ever" and it struggled to keep up with demand.
Shane Hale, the owner of Mount Maunganui business Sign Creations Limited, is so desperate to find an extra staff member he has a sign at the front gate which reads, 'Signwriter wanted dead or live'.
"On a scale of one to 10, in terms of how busy we are, I'd say we're at 10.25," he said.
Hale said he was "very confident" the Bay economy would continue to boom
"Our business has grown three-fold in the past three to five years and keeps growing and we're looking to expand the business further in the next two to three years," he said.
Hospitality New Zealand Bay of Plenty regional manager Alan Sciascia said there was no sign the demand for more hospitality employees was slowing down.
"Growth in hospitality employment reflected general confidence in the sector," he said.
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said the survey result reflected the strong regional economy which created lots of jobs.
"We're seeing this confidence in local businesses too – in a recent survey we conducted we found 71 per cent of respondents expect their business to grow over the next year."
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stan Gregec said, in the main, chamber members were feeling "optimistic and positive" and the city was "still humming" along.
Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless said the boost in confidence reflected the great work undertaken by a number of agencies to grow the economy and create more jobs
"It's great news especially for young people and other job seekers in the city," he said.
NZ Kiwifruit Growers spokesman Mike Murphy said the region's kiwifruit industry was expected to grow to $4.6 billion by 2029/30, but there were "definitely challenges" around the amount of labour, water and land needed.
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce acting chief executive Bryce Heard said people were feeling more confident about the local economy's future prospects.
"People are definitely also willing to spend money and the city is cracking along," he said.
Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said there has been a substantial business investment in the area in the past few years with new businesses coming in and existing businesses reinvesting and extending their offerings.
"That points to confidence in our local economy which is translating into more jobs and contributing to the general growth we're seeing, including population growth," she said.
"The latest [Westpac] survey reinforces what we've been seeing and what we're hearing from our business community, which is very heartening."
Rotorua's Ponsonby Rd Lounge Bar owners Tamati Coffey and Tim Smith opened their second Eat Streat bar Our House employing 16 staff a few days before Christmas.
Coffey, also the MP for Waiariki, said business confidence across the region was high.
"As a region, the Bay of Plenty economy is doing really well and I recently visited Tauranga and across the city l saw a number of businesses are also looking for more staff.
"That tells me the Bay of Plenty's economy is growing and that trend is also reflected in reports to the Government's Finance and Expenditure Committee which I sit on," he said.
2018 December quarter Regional Economic Confidence:
Top six regions:
Gisborne/Hawke's Bay: 52 per cent; Nelson/Manawatu-Whanganui and Southland: 51 per cent; Otago: 50 per cent; Wellington: 38 per cent; and Bay of Plenty: 37 per cent.
Source: Westpac-MCDermott Miller Regional Economic Confidence Survey