The 2020 Summer edition of Taranaki Trends is now available.

The 2020 Summer edition of Taranaki Trends, produced by Venture Taranaki, is now available. The data set and metrics presented in this edition are the first to come through since the COVID-19 pandemic first reached New Zealand, making this edition of Taranaki Trends a valuable 'post-COVID' snapshot of the region's economy six months on from when COVID-19 first appeared.
 
“This edition is important as we look at the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, and how our 'return to better' is being achieved,” says Venture Taranaki Chief Executive Justine Gilliland.
 
“Overall, our Taranaki economy remains resilient, though the data supports the need for job retention and high-level skill redeployment and attraction, to help ensure both stability and sustainable growth in our employment rates,” says Justine.
 
Regional GDP, the traditional measure of economic activity in Taranaki, rose to $9.3 billion in the year-to-end-August 2020. Taranaki still ranks as one of the highest rates of economic activity per capita in New Zealand, largely due to our strong food and fibre sector, which is our biggest GDP earner and to date largely unaffected by COVID-19.

“New Zealand’s food exports mean that we still have a large connection to the outside world. Revenue from these exports is putting food on the table for many families in Taranaki. Our region, with its strong dairy and red meat sectors, is well placed to take advantage of increases in global demand, as well as high-value sectors such as Mānuka honey and specialty foods,” explains Justine.

“The data tells some key stories of our ‘return to better’,” Justine says. “For instance, we are holding on to our share of domestic tourism with visitors to our region spending an estimated $380 million in the year ending August 2020, of which 80% came from domestic tourism. This is a decrease of -9.3%, indicating the challenges our tourism industry has felt in the recent months. However, compared to that of Auckland which is looking at a decrease of -20%, Taranaki has fared better than others.”

“We can also see by our retail spend data that Taranaki has answered the call to ‘Go Local’,” adds Venture Taranaki General Manager Regional Strategy and Sectors, Anne Probert. “The downturn in retail spend during the first Alert Level 4 lockdown is very noticeable across New Zealand. Taranaki had a stronger recovery once restrictions eased in June and has maintained a higher baseline than the main cities. The hard-hit retail sector is regenerating income, and the spectre of boarded-up streets that loomed during lockdown seems unlikely now.”
“The housing market data is also providing some interesting insights. Naturally, Taranaki experienced a drop in the number of houses sold during lockdown. But by June, the sales figures had returned to 178 homes sold. Interestingly, Taranaki also had the lowest August ‘days to sell’ since records began, down 11 days from 35 days in August 2019 to 24 days in August 2020.”

House prices have remained buoyant. The region saw median house prices reach a new record high of $451,000 with South Taranaki district achieving a new record median price of $315,000. The value of houses in Taranaki increased across the board in 2020. House prices increased by 20.8% in Stratford, 13.9% in South Taranaki and 9.6% in New Plymouth district.

The total value of all building consents processed in Taranaki in the 12 months ending July 2020 ($362,169,799) is up 6.5% compared to the 12 months ending July 2019 ($340,185,435). Total value of consents for the whole of New Zealand decreased by 1.2% over the same period. 

“Of concern, however, is the data indicating our unemployment levels. Jobseeker numbers in Taranaki topped 5,000 in August, a 33.5% increase on August 2019. Our unemployment rate rose from 3.7% in March to 4.3% by June,” continues Anne.

Taranaki had been experiencing a decline in the NEET rate from 2017–2019; however, 2020 has seen the NEET rate increase to 16.3%. This rate is still well above the national NEET rate of 12.4%.
“Taranaki Trends is an important component of Venture Taranaki’s regional intelligence activity. Produced 6-monthly, the publication amalgamates a range of statistical sources, providing a range of measures of our regional performance over time,” Anne says.
 
“The value of this work, now more so than ever, is in giving enterprises and local government a credible tool to help them plan for growth and to benchmark against wider regional performance, while it also offers those with a strategic connection to the region a regular barometer of progress against the wider economic landscape.”

You can view and download Taranaki Trends Summer 2020 edition here.