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Rise in regional consumer confidence good for jobs

24 June 2003 Media release

Rise in regional consumer confidence good for jobs


The rise in consumer confidence across the regions of New Zealand in the June quarter is a cause for cautious optimism about New Zealand's economic and job prospects, Economic Development Minister, Jim Anderton, said today.

"The rise in consumer confidence is a tribute to New Zealanders' resilience in the face of the SARS outbreak in Asia and ongoing weakness in key overseas markets," the Progressive leader said.

New Zealand's rate of economic growth has surpassed the average of the OECD in recent years.

The Progressive leader said he believes the resilience of New Zealand firms and consumers across the regions of the country means it is reasonable and credible to remain confident that the country can continue to out-perform many of its trading partners over the next three years.

"Companies I have visited in the past month show a degree of realistic confidence and determination which is more positive than the nervousness about the future I saw when I was in Europe last month. New Zealand has over the past three and a half years built up the capacity of its regional economies to withstand global downturns better than we were able to do in the past," Jim Anderton added.

Consumer confidence bounced back across the board in the June quarter according to the Westpac McDermott Miller Consumer Confidence Index today.

The Bay of Plenty recorded the biggest increase in consumer confidence, up 12.3 index points to 120.8 over the quarter, compared with 108.5 in the March quarter.

An index number over 100 indicates that there are more optimists than pessimists.

Consumer confidence rose in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki/Manawatu-Wanganui, Wellington, Nelson-Marlborough/West Coast, Canterbury, Otago and Southland, while nationally the index rose to 118.6 in the June quarter, compared with 112.1 in the March quarter.

Consumer confidence is a leading indicator of future economic activity and job opportunities. Jim Anderton said it was not surprising that confidence is generally lower in rural regions because the prosperity of farming regions is so closely tied to international commodity prices.

"I believe that many regions where consumer confidence remains resilient are those with proactive economic development initiatives and the most creative approach to transforming their economies," Jim Anderton said.

ENDS

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