Taranaki Trends is Venture Taranaki's 6-monthly collection of economic, industry and demographic data

The latest edition of Taranaki Trends, produced by Venture Taranaki, highlights a valuable analysis of Taranaki’s economy, pre-COVID-19. The data collected in this edition will be a ‘line in the sand’ to help with tracking the economic situation in Taranaki, moving forward.
 
“The dynamic situation over recent months, as the result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, will play out in the data sets from this point forward. This edition of Taranaki Trends presents a valuable ‘pre-COVID’ snapshot of the region’s economy,” says Venture Taranaki Chief Executive Justine Gilliland.

Up until this point in time, strong activity can be seen across most aspects of the regional economy, underpinned by a degree of stability across Taranaki’s foundational food and manufacturing sectors.
 
Dairy product manufacturing comprises 41.4% of Taranaki’s exports, the region’s largest food export subsector, with meat and meat product manufacturing following.
 
Manufacturing is Taranaki’s largest employment sector, employing 8,800 people in 2019 (16.9% of the workforce). Healthcare and social assistance follows with 5,500 employees.
Taranaki employs proportionally more people in Manufacturing, Construction and Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing and Mining relative to the NZ average.
 
Pre-COVID there were 15,519 businesses registered in Taranaki, an increase of 21.6% since the year 2000.
 
The value of houses in Taranaki increased across the board in 2020. House prices increased by 15.4% in Stratford, 11.8% in South Taranaki and 8.6% in New Plymouth District. The median house sale price in Taranaki during March 2020 was $425,000, with New Plymouth at $515,000, Stratford $335,000, and South Taranaki at $260,000.
 
This issue of Trends also captures population trends, including demographics such as age and ethnicity, qualifications, migration, GDP, exports, business and employment statistics, sectorial insights such as dairy, construction and tourism, as well as retail activity.
 
“This will be important as we look ahead at what the flow on impacts of the COVID lockdown and alert level restriction have been, and also contemplate both a return to normal and a ‘return to better’,” Justine explains.
 
“A ‘return to better’ approach offers an opportunity to look at response and recovery, but also reimagination – a conscious considering of how we do business in Taranaki and what we can do to ensure our future operations, and economy, can strengthen, learn and find new opportunity in the face of change and crisis.”
 
The six months covered by this edition of Taranaki Trends marks what might now be considered ‘the old normal’. Borders were open, projects and spending were uninterrupted, and economic activity was yet to be confronted by the impacts of COVID-19.
 
“In the recent edition of Taranaki Trends we have also taken this opportunity to look closely at some of the smaller towns in the region, recognising that Taranaki’s wider economic prosperity has traditionally been rurally driven, and while our population has been following global trends of moving to larger hubs, our economy is built on foundations that extend well beyond the open road signs,” Justine continues.
 
There remain areas of concern, particularly around labour force participation, and equity for Māori, as well as workforce. These concerns are likely to increase as the impacts and changes in our economy continue to play out in the coming 12 months and potentially beyond, due to COVID-19.

Infometrics have estimated that Taranaki’s economy could contract by 8.5% and we may lose 5,500 jobs over the next 12 months, as the impacts of COVID-19 are fully felt.

“Through all our efforts to return to a better normal than we left, we can significantly improve on this scenario, but it will take time, innovation, investment and the support of all those here in Taranaki, and nationally”, says Justine.
Venture Taranaki maintains its commitment to monitoring economic impacts and developments within our region, as well as supporting our enterprises, and driving innovation and sustainable, inclusive growth.
 
Read the full edition here.