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Wellington business confidence trebles in 9 months

Wellington business confidence trebles in 9 months

Confidence in the Wellington region’s economy has taken yet another sharp upturn and is now three times higher than nine months ago, according to the latest Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Business Confidence Survey.

A net 53.7% of business respondents said they expected the Wellington economy to improve over the next 12 months, with 60.6% expecting it to improve and just 6.8% saying it will decline.

The latest figures compare with a net 40% in December last year expecting an improvement, 27.6% in August, and just 18.4% in May.

The quarterly survey, which was released today by Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Raewyn Bleakley, was conducted in the last two weeks of March.

Confidence in the national economy remains very high, with a net 76.2% of respondents expecting it to improve. This compares with 75.3% in November and 46.7% a year ago.

There was a similar slight decline in the number of respondents forecasting their own business situation to improve over the next 12 months, down 1.3% to a net 58%.

A net 27.6% of businesses expect to invest in plant or equipment for their business over the next 12 months, down fractionally from the previous survey in November (26.9%). Some 35.8% expect to invest more, while just 8% expect to invest less (12.4% in November).

Some 43% of businesses expect to hire more staff over the next 12 months, no change from the November survey, while just 8.3% expect staff numbers to decrease, compared with 15.3% in November.

When asked to specify the limiting factors their businesses were facing, many businesses pointed to employee attraction and retention, limited funding, expenditure, and red tape. Some 43.8% said it was harder to find skilled/specialist employees than it was 12 months ago. This was up from 38% in November.

Raewyn Bleakley says the survey is further evidence that the local economy is on the move.

“Expectations for the national economy and businesses’ own situation remains very high and is backed by a huge leap in confidence for the local economy, and they are both very positive indicators for the region.

“The rise in confidence from 18% to 53% in less than a year is a massive jump and shows we are on the right track.

“It’s great to see that businesses expect to invest more in plant, equipment and staff over the next 12 months. If that is borne out then I expect there will be a snowball effect through the economy.

“The recent Business Forum organised by the City Council and the Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce shows there is the will, the expertise, and the enthusiasm in the region to make things happen, and the survey bears that out.”

The survey also asked businesses to rank Wellington City Council’s ‘8 big ideas’ in order of preference. A clear majority ranked international air connections as their No. 1 option, followed by better transport, a tech precinct, let’s be open for business, conference and concert venues, liveable city, a Miramar framework, and a film museum.

“Although our members have ranked their preferences around the ‘8 big ideas’, the Chamber will insist that the council provides a robust business case for each project, including a convincing cost-benefit analysis and a repayment strategy with a solid commitment to service and pay down the debt quickly.”


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