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Central New Zealand business confidence slumps again

Businesses' views on New Zealand's economic outlook have again dropped back to negative levels, according to a survey by Wellington Regional Chambers of Commerce and Business Central.

In the latest survey, a net negative 8 per cent of business respondents across central New Zealand expect the economy to be worse in the next 12 months. This compares to the December survey, in which a net positive 7 per cent of businesses said they expected the economy to be better in 12 months, and a net negative 12 per cent in September.

Chief Executive John Milford said the survey result reflected the uncertain business environment currently, with confidence rebounding and then falling away again in consecutive quarters. This is in line with other recent national confidence surveys, and remains an unsettled time for business.

The quarterly survey was sent to Wellington Regional Chambers of Commerce and Business Central members across central New Zealand in March, and received 675 responses.

"The new year started out positively, but with the recent release from the Tax Working Group and changes to employment law coming into effect, businesses are being hit hard," Mr Milford said. "Then there are still issues to do with employing the right staff and skills, which businesses are struggling with."

When asked unprompted about the barriers their business and organisations are facing, nearly a quarter of respondents (23 per cent) had issues with finding the right staff and skills (down from 25 per cent in December), 14 per cent said compliance costs and financing issues were a main issue (10 per cent in December).

Expectations for the regional economy in March were net 12 per cent positive (down from 32 per cent positive), and for businesses' own situation a net 38 per cent positive (down from net 47 per cent positive).

"Our members across central New Zealand are still struggling to fill staffing shortages and current Government policy on the issue hasn’t helped. Finding skilled labour is a far greater concern than the other stand-out issues of central government policy, compliance costs, and financing issues," said Mr Milford.

"Concerns across the regional economy are strongly focused on having adequate transport infrastructure, with almost one-third of respondents identifying this issue as holding back regional growth. This is unchanged from our December survey."

The Wellington Regional Chambers of Commerce & Business Central Business Confidence Survey was conducted over a 21-day period between 13th March and 2nd April (The survey was extended due to the tragedy in Christchurch on March 15th). The next survey will take place in June.

Editors’ note - Net percentage is the balance of sentiment, positive minus negative responses.


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