Business failures for 2020 are significantly down.
The rate of firms entering liquidation or receivership in June and July is about half the level of a year earlier.
According to analysis of Companies Office filings by the Herald, 243 companies entered administration in the past two months. The comparable figure for 2019 was 452.
This has occurred despite the crisis posed by Covid triggering a global recession. Both Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Opposition finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith put the startling decline in business failure rates down to the wage subsidy scheme whose imminent expiry is flagged as a key litmus test in determining the underlying state of the economy.
Changes to the treatment of insolvency law enacted under lockdown, intended to offer a "safe harbour" for directors facing liquidity problems as a result of the Covid crisis, are also believed to have delayed decisions on many businesses' futures.
Analysis of wage subsidy recipients suggest that of 1.6 million jobs covered by wage subsidies - both the broad initial scheme covering the period of lockdown, and the more targeted extension focused on industries still experiencing revenue declines of 40 per cent or more - fewer than 2000 jobs have been lost by companies that have failed in the interim.
This accounts for only 0.1 per cent, or $11 million out of $10 billion, of subsidy spending analysed by the Herald.
The largest failures of subsidy recipients to date - retailer Smith's City and wood processor Claymark who account for nearly 1000 of the jobs between them - have been well-canvassed and receivers there elected to continue trading.
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However, ANZ chief economist Sharon Zollner cautions that company administrations - liquidations and receiverships - are lagging rather than leading indicators in downturns and should be expected to rise in the coming months.
A parallel aggregation of announced layoffs to date shows while wholesale failures have been largely avoided, larger companies especially have been active in downsizing in response to the crisis and this is where job losses have been concentrated to date.
Air New Zealand, Auckland Council, Fletcher Building and The Warehouse have each trimmed more than 1000 jobs.
The national airline let 4000 go in a series of savage cutbacks as borders have closed around the world and international air transit has withered.
Nearly 16,000 job cuts have been announced to date, but the true figure is likely significantly higher as small businesses are likely to have restructured out of the public eye.
- Additional reporting by Keith Ng.