The region's unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since pre-lockdown according to new figures released yesterday and community leaders are thrilled to see the regional economy rebounding after Covid-19.
The newly released Labour Market Survey shows that in the December 2020 quarter, the unemployment rate within the Manawatu/Whanganui region fell to 4.5 per cent - a drop from the 4.7 per cent recorded in the September 2020 quarter.
The drop also follows a sharp rise in the June 2020 quarter, where unemployment shot up 0.7 per cent following the Covid-19 lockdown.
The new figure of 4.5 per cent for the Manawatu/Whanganui region is below the national unemployment rate of 4.9 per cent, and is also better than neighbouring regions such as Wellington on 4.6 per cent and Taranaki on 6.3 per cent.
Whanganui Chamber of Commerce said the figures were a result of industry growth within the region.
"The Whanganui Chamber of Commerce and Industry is pleased with the latest employment figures," board director Joamari van der Walt said in a statement.
"The decrease in unemployment and increase in hours worked will increase the household incomes and consumer spending leading to a positive ripple effect in our city's economic growth."
Van der Walt said the figures show overwhelmingly pessimistic economic forecasts don't always necessarily come to fruition.
"It is again clear that predictions during these unprecedented times cannot be made with confidence. With industry growth in the wider region mooted, we should continue to see the decline in unemployment.
"We are encouraged to hear stories of businesses making their way to Whanganui to operate as they see our region as a viable option for them."
Rangitīkei District Mayor Andy Watson told the Chronicle he believed the figure would be even lower within his district, with some employers even having difficulty filling positions.
"We have jobs we are struggling to fill. We are looking at helping Whanganui and Palmerston North out as well, bearing in mind we have a whole lot of industry and new jobs coming to the district too," he said.
"We have a number of companies that are either in the process of expanding or have expanded, including iwi's own programmes. So when you get horticulture starting to move into an area like Rangitikei, it starts soaking up labour quite quickly.
"But we've also got industries coming that will create high-level jobs too."
Watson said the district appeared to have rebounded strongly from the economic impacts of the Covid-19 lockdown, with businesses in the district working hard to innovate in an attempt to stay above water.
"We have some individual companies that have to reinvent themselves post-Covid. We have companies that are still under stress, but some of them have been quite creative to find other ways to look for other new opportunities.
"Overall, I'm thrilled with the figures, and it goes to show how much of a strong position our district is in."
Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall has been contacted for comment.