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Region performing well according to updates

25 November 2004

Auckland Regional Council

Region performing well according to economic update

Solid overall growth, low regional unemployment and key industries are performing well according to the Auckland Regional Council's Business and Economy Update released this week.

This Update builds on a more extensive report released in April, and provides a snapshot of the Auckland region's economic performance over the past six months.

According to the Update, the region is set to record solid growth for 2004. Predictions of 4% growth are well above the 2.8% recorded for 2003, and ahead of the 3.3% forecast six months ago.

Construction and housing sectors have been the stand-out performers over recent months, but a lack of skilled labour remains an ongoing constraint on growth overall.

With virtually full employment across the region (the region's unemployment rate is currently 3.7%), labour is scarce and the competition for skilled staff continues to put pressure on employers to offer more attractive conditions and wages, and to improve productivity.

Overall the past six months have seen solid economic performance for the region, but there are still numerous challenges to be addressed: skill shortages, rising interest rates and a constant push to achieve 'smart' growth rather than the current reliance on labour.

Apart from skill shortages, transport and roading continue to be cited as major factors hindering growth in the region. However, the formation of two new entities under the ARC earlier this year will go a long way to address some of the governance arrangements that have been an issue in the past.

"The ARC has been reorganised to face these challenges with the Auckland Regional Transport Authority responsible for the planning, funding and implementation of land transport across the region," says ARC Chairman Michael Lee.

"We also have an additional source of funding through Auckland Regional Holdings, which owns an 80% shareholding in Ports of Auckland as well as other assets and investments which will be sustainably managed for the long-term benefit of the people of the region."

Mr Lee says that the Update shows that while the region faces many challenges, good economic performance can only benefit those who live and work in the region.

The Update is produced by the National Bank of New Zealand on behalf of the ARC. The more in-depth report, Business & Economy, is produced annually in April and provides a summary of current economic trends, prospects and challenges in the Auckland region.

A copy of the Update is attached. The yearly report is available online at www.arc.govt.nz.

ENDS

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