Unemployment down - Kiwis returning home

Columns
Friday, August 26, 2016

We received good economic news this last week.

Statistics New Zealand reported that the official unemployment rate has dropped to 5.1 per cent in the June Quarter, down from 5.5 per cent a year earlier. In Auckland our unemployment rate is 4.7 per cent – the lowest since September 2008.

What it all means is that 105,000 extra jobs have been created in our economy in the last year and 251,000 extra jobs have been created in the last three years.

The average annual wage has also risen about 25 per cent to over $58,000 since 2008 – more than double the 11.9 per cent rate of inflation over the same period.

We are fortunate to be one of the fastest growing economies in the developed world which is drawing people to visit and migrate here. We are also attracting thousands of New Zealanders to return home to live.

This migration is a sign of success, even if not always popular when in the headlines.

Skilled migrants are fulfilling roles on the skills shortage lists, international students are coming to study at our esteemed academic institutions, people are moving to invest their money here and New Zealanders are coming home.

Instead of 35,000 Kiwis leaving every year to go to Australia, they are either staying home or returning as they see great prospects and bright futures within our thriving economy.

But while migration is a sign of success, it also has its challenges.

New Zealanders returning home is a big part of why demand for housing in Auckland has been outstripping supply for many years.

We need to accommodate this growth by building more houses.

The new Auckland Unitary Plan is set to provide 422,000 new dwellings in Auckland. This is very good news because, for so long, land supply constraints imposed by local government units in Auckland have been part of the problem, not the solution.

The Unitary Plan will achieve a much needed boost to supply.

The hard work required now is ramping up on building activity. New housing is needed in Auckland as we continue to see our improving economic circumstances leading to more New Zealanders choosing to return home, and the next generation realising their future lies right here.

Jami-Lee Ross
Member of Parliament for Botany