Ashburton District Quarterly economic monitor - March 2020

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Overview

Indicator Ashburton District Canterbury Region New Zealand
Annual average % change
Gross domestic product
2.2%
1.5%
1.7%
Traffic flow
-1.0%
-2.4%
-0.2%
Health Enrolments
-0.9%
1.8%
2.5%
Consumer spending
-0.07%
2.0%
3.0%
Residential consents
-11.6%
10.8%
9.0%
Non-residential consents
84.7%
-5.7%
-0.4%
House prices*
6.6%
4.0%
5.9%
House sales
9.0%
4.3%
2.0%
Tourism expenditure
0.6%
-1.1%
1.4%
Car registrations
-6.6%
-30.4%
-11.5%
Commercial vehicle registrations
-19.6%
-25.6%
-12.8%
Jobseeker Support recipients
17.3%
14.3%
11.7%
Level
Unemployment rate
2.7%
3.7%
4.1%
* Annual percentage change (latest quarter compared to a year earlier)

Overview of Ashburton District

Ashburton District’s economy reported a steady March quarter, placing in it in good stead as it entered the COVID-19 induced recession. Infometrics provisional GDP estimates show growth of 2.2% in the year to March 2020, ahead of the national rate of 1.7%.

Unemployment in Ashburton remained stubbornly low at 2.7%, representing a very tight labour market. Despite this, the number of Jobseeker support recipients notched up by 17.3% (11.7% nationally) which may reflect some members of society struggling to engage with labour market.

Consumer spending held steady in the district over the past year, held back by an absence of population growth.

Ashburton’s housing market remains strong, with house values up 6.6% while sales volumes advanced by a strong 9.0%. Despite this strong indication of demand, residential building consents fell back by nearly 12%. Strong growth in non-residential consents, of 85%, will keep the construction sector busy with new industrial and farm buildings consented.

Infometrics’ modelling for Ashburton District shows that the district is expected to fare slightly better than the rest of New Zealand, due to its strong agricultural base, and diversified industry mix. Nationally, employment is forecast to decline by 9.8% over the year to March 2021, pushing the national unemployment rate to 9.0%.

Overview of national economy

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the economy and plunged New Zealand into the sharpest recession in living memory. The March quarter includes the full progression of the virus, from its origins in China and subsequent hit to New Zealand exports, through to border closures forcing lower tourism arrivals, before culminating in the lockdown of New Zealand under Alert Level 4. Our March 2020 Quarterly Economic Monitor only captures the initial economic effects of putting the New Zealand economy on life support. The June Monitor will better reflect activity changes. No sector of the economy will be spared, with the regional impacts dependant on the local economic structure – Infometrics is now forecasting the loss of 250,000 jobs nationally over the next year, followed by a long period of restructuring the economy.