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Unemployment in Manukau at lowest level since 80s

Unemployment in Manukau at lowest level since 80s

New figures show Manukau City’s jobless rate is now 6%, the lowest rate since the 1980s. The fall reflects strong economic growth in the city. Approximately 4,000 new jobs were created in 2002.

Manukau City Council’s latest economic update indicates the number of people receiving the unemployment benefit fell 8% last year.

Traditionally, Maori and Pacific Island jobseekers make up a high proportion of the unemployed, and that remains the case but the number of Maori unemployed has fallen by 6.5% and the number of Pacific island jobless by 11%.

Mayor Sir Barry Curtis says it’s great news and shows the importance of being a business-friendly city and fostering economic growth. “The bottom line is that businesses create jobs. Without businesses willing to invest here we wouldn’t have the jobs local people need. Attracting new businesses and helping established ones expand is a priority for the Council.

“However it’s also a reminder of the importance of getting qualifications and

skills that employers want. No young person should leave the education system without qualifications, and we must work towards that goal.”

Of those who remain without jobs in Manukau, two thirds are Maori or Pacific Islanders, most of whom are unskilled and unqualified, which is the major reason they cannot find work.

Over 2002 the Manukau economy grew 4%, slightly lower than the national average.

This reflects the slight slowing of the property market and the high kiwi dollar, which make it hard for local manufacturers to compete with cheaper rivals.

There are now 17,300 businesses in Manukau. The total number of businesses rose by 200 in the year to January. The largest newcomer is Jack Link’s, a US-based food company which produces meat products such as beef jerky, principally for export.

Major factors in the booming economy are immigration, the housing market and real estate generally. Manukau is the fastest growing city in New Zealand and that growth is fuelling demand for new homes, as well as land developments for new businesses, especially in the Botany/East Tamaki area.

The residential property market has slowed a little since late last year, but is still strong and commercial developments continue at a fast pace.

The level of activity in the real estate market is reflected in the numbers of building consents, and the number of non-residential building consents granted rose by 51% in the year to March.

Tourism has been buoyant. Occupancy nights rose by 20% in the January quarter compared to a year earlier, and the average occupancy rate is now 75%. However the full effect of SARS and the drop in international air travel is expected to hit the local accommodation industry hard in the coming months, with fewer international tourists expected.

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