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Local jobs bounce back

A dip in forestry exports at the end of last year has been pointed to as the reason for a temporary rise in unemployment.

However, the regional economic development agency Trust Tairawhiti believes the region has already bounced back from the temporary dip.

Provisional estimates supplied by Statistics New Zealand suggest the unemployment rate here jumped from 4.9 percent in December 2020 to 6.7 percent at the end of last year.

Similarly, the estimated employment rate fell from 69.4 percent to 60.1 percent.

Trust Tairāwhiti economic development general manager Richard Searle pointed out the data was based on a very small sample size and the fluctuations should be viewed with caution.

“The trust accesses data from other sources including benefit counts and tax filing, which shows robust employment in Gisborne. The number of people on jobseeker support benefits continued to fall from around 2810 at the end of September to around 2660 at the end of December.

“Filled job numbers from tax filings show an increase of about 600 jobs in the region in December compared to a year earlier, with more people in retail, construction, professional services, the primary sector and health sector.

“Anecdotally, we're hearing that many businesses are struggling to fill job vacancies.

“Log prices declined towards the end of 2021, resulting in lower crew production and some loss of harvesting capacity in Tairāwhiti. There was also economic uncertainty with the region being in red until mid-December and the loss of some major events, which might have led to a temporarily weaker labour market in the December quarter.”

Official Stats NZ data, which combine Gisborne and Hawke's Bay, put the combined regional unemployment rate at 3.8 percent, down from 5.7 percent the year before.

Nationally, unemployment has fallen to its lowest level on record as the hard work of business and workers along with the Government's actions to support the economy during the Delta outbreak resulted in more people in work and higher wages.

Stats NZ figures show the unemployment rate fell to 3.2 percent in the December quarter from 3.3 percent in the September quarter, down 5000 to 93,000 classed out of work. That is 34 percent below where it was a year ago.