Whangarei District Quarterly economic monitor - December 2018

Overview

Indicator Whangarei District Northland Region New Zealand
Annual average % change
Gross domestic product
2.5%
2.2%
2.7%
Traffic flow
1.5%
2.7%
2.7%
Health Enrolments
2.7%
2.7%
1.9%
Consumer spending
4.1%
6.4%
4.5%
Residential consents
-3.8%
-6.8%
6.1%
Non-residential consents
20%
53%
9.0%
House prices*
7.7%
6.2%
2.3%
House sales
0.6%
0.4%
3.1%
Guest nights
7.0%
0.7%
2.3%
Tourism expenditure
-0.4%
-0.3%
4.3%
Car registrations
-2.3%
-6.4%
-6.7%
Commercial vehicle registrations
3.4%
-1.4%
1.6%
Jobseeker Support recipients
2.6%
2.6%
4.8%
Level
Unemployment rate
5.6%
5.6%
4.3%
* Annual percentage change (latest quarter compared to a year earlier)

Overview of Whangarei District

The Whāngārei economy grew strongly over the 12 months to December 2018, expanding at a rate of 2.5%pa. This growth was faster than the Northland average of 2.2%pa, and only a touch behind the New Zealand average of 2.7%pa.

Regional consumer confidence in Northland (from Westpac-McDermott Miller) increased in the December quarter, with a net 24% of respondents expecting an improved economic performance over the next year. This sentiment is backed up by action, with consumer spending figures from Marketview showing growth of 4.1%pa in Whāngārei over the 12 months to December 2018. Health enrolments, our new leading indicator for population changes, increased 2.7%pa in Whāngārei over the last year, matching the Northland average but growing faster than the New Zealand average (1.9%pa).

Residential consents cast a shadow over a mostly bright housing picture, down 3.8%pa over the 12 months to December. However, non-residential consent values picked up 20%pa, above the New Zealand average of 9.0%pa. Both house prices and house sales increased, up 7.7%pa and 0.6%pa respectively, and faster than the Northland average.

Tourism was a mixed back over the last year, with guest nights up 7.0%pa in Whāngārei but tourism expenditure down 0.4%pa. Nationally we expect overseas visitor growth will soften further.

The unemployment rate fell to its lowest since the start of 2009, sitting at 5.6% over the last year. Although Jobseeker numbers in Whāngārei grew 2.6%pa over the last 12 months, this growth was slower than the national average of 4.8%pa.

Traffic flows in Whāngārei increased 1.5%pa over the last 12 months, slower than the Northland and New Zealand average. Although passenger car registrations fell 2.3%pa in Whāngārei over the last year, the fall was greater throughout the country, down 6.7%pa. Commercial vehicle registrations grew 3.4%pa, double the national rate of growth.

Overview of national economy

Throughout 2018, business confidence indicators suggested the New Zealand economy was going to crash and burn. But although growth slowed slightly, there were no other signs we were staring down the barrel of a full- blown recession. Looking to 2019, New Zealand’s domestic economy remains in a similar position to 12 months ago: prospects of middling growth, somewhat hampered by capacity constraints and a tight labour market, and with some of the biggest potential shifts being driven by government policies (such as migration or the housing market). In contrast to this largely unchanged domestic picture, many question marks have appeared during the last year over the international economic environment.