Whakatane District bucks negative trends
The sun is shining on Whakatane economically with the district bucking negative trends affecting the rest of the country following the Covid-19 lockdown.
The latest Infometrics Quarterly Economic Report shows Whakatane is outperforming the rest of the country in consumer spending, tourism expenditure, growth in Gross Domestic Product, and increase in house values.
However, its unemployment rate is higher than the national average and the percentage of people seeking Jobseeker Support has increased by 26 per cent in the year to March 2021 – although the tide is starting to turn.
It also seems there isn’t much construction occurring in the Whakatane district either with consents for residential and non-residential builds well down compared to the rest of the country.
Consumer spending in the Whakatane district in the year to March 2021 is well up with an increase of 6.6 percent compared to a -0.2 per cent decrease in the wider Bay of Plenty and -3.8 per cent in New Zealand.
Despite the two hits of the Whakaari eruption and Covid-19, tourism expenditure is up 3.8 per cent in compared to a decrease of 9.9 per cent in the wider Bay and a national decrease of 16.6 per cent.
Tourism expenditure in the 12 months was around $81 million, up from $78 million the previous year.
Whakatane’s GDP increased by 3.2 per cent in the year to March 2021 as sectors like dairy, forestry, tourism and aquaculture were performing well.
This is a good result compared to the wider Bay of Plenty’s -0.2 percent result and the country’s -3 percent result.
House prices are continuing to rise in the Whakatane district and are outpacing the wider Bay of Plenty and New Zealand in percentage increases.
The average house value in Whakatane was up 22.9 per cent compared to a year earlier. In the wider Bay of Plenty, house values increased 21.5 percent and nationally the rise was 18.2 per cent.
In March, the average house value in the Whakatane district was $657,560 compared to an average value of $871,375 in New Zealand.
Despite the increase in value, house sales in the district are up 4 percent compared to the previous year.
House sales in the wider Bay of Plenty are up 0.9 per cent and 13.4 per cent in New Zealand.
Resource consents for residential builds in the Whakatane district are down 35 per cent.
In the wider Bay of Plenty and nationally, consents for residential builds were up 7.3 per cent and 9.7 percent respectively.
In the first quarter of this year, there were 25 resource consents issued for residential builds in the district.
This trend is echoed in resource consents for non-residential builds, which are down 11.7 per cent in Whakatane but up 76.8 per cent in the wider Bay of Plenty and 5.3 percent in New Zealand.
The unemployment rate in the Whakatane district has risen from 5.8 per cent to 6.5 per cent in the last year.
This is higher than the wider Bay of Plenty rate of 5.2 per cent and the New Zealand unemployment rate of 4.7 per cent.
The unemployment rate in the Whakatane district peaked in 2012 at 9.1 per cent.
People receiving the Jobseeker Support benefit has also increased by 26 per cent.
This is a smaller increase than that seen in the wider Bay of Plenty and nationally where the increase was 38.5 per cent and 39.8 per cent respectively.
An average of 2692 people were receiving a Jobseeker Support benefit in the Whakatane district in the year to March 2021. This compares with an average of 1822 in 2012.
The report says nationally more than 202,000 people were receiving the benefit in the year to March 2021, but this number was starting to trend downward.
It says Jobseeker Support levels remain significantly higher than pre-pandemic, but the trend is moving in the right direction.