MAYOR: Latest data shows positive signs for district

Published: 28 May 2021

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The tumultuous nature of our pandemic-affected world right now has been a real adjustment and one that we continue to push through. As our national Covid-19 vaccination programme begins gaining momentum, our local economy too is showing some good signs.

Last week, we received the latest Infometrics Quarterly Economic Monitor for the district, which captures what has been happening in the third quarter of this financial year.

The numbers do indeed reflect some of what you’d expect from a global pandemic and subsequent disruption to our way of life, but they aren’t all doom and gloom.

For instance, while Ashburton’s economy has declined 2.1 per cent and local employment is down 1.4 per cent largely due to a decline in agriculture, manufacturing and transport, there are glimmers of positivity. We also appear to be performing a little better than the national average on a number of fronts.

Our commercial vehicle registrations, for example, are up 15.5 per cent – a very different story to what is happening nationally where commercial vehicle registrations have actually declined 16.5 per cent. In Infometrics’ eyes, this result points to a degree of business confidence in our district.

Consumer confidence too may have some positive signs, with car registrations also slightly up (0.5 per cent). Again, this is a very different picture to our regional and national figures where they are seeing declines of 42.8 per cent (Canterbury) and 19.2 per cent (national).

Non-residential consents are up 56.9 per cent, driven largely by the consenting of the new Ashburton Library & Civic Centre, and residential consents are also pointing up. As Chief Executive, Hamish Riach reported last week, the real growth in these consents is likely yet to be seen in the economic data, as consenting often has a lagged reporting time.

The building service desk at Council has been running hot of late with lots of requests for information and consent applications.

And as house prices are skyrocketing around the country, we are also seeing significant growth here. Our house values are up 14.2 per cent, with the average value now sitting at $429,000 – about half the national average.

Of course, we are not yet a picture of perfect health, but there are aspects of our district’s data that are quite reassuring to see.

If you haven’t had a chance yet, make sure to review the full Infometrics Quarterly Economic Monitor that is freely available on the Council website It is a useful tool to help guide your next steps.

Ashburton District Council Mayor, Neil Brown, provides a fortnightly column to local newspapers. This column was featured in the Ashburton Guardian on Wednesday, 26 May 2021.

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