Census reveals huge drop in smokers

Teenagers in Manawatu/Whanganui are increasingly saying no to cigarettes with the region recording New Zealand's second-highest decrease in the number of teen smokers.

The figures were recorded in the latest release of information from last year's Census.

2013 Census results showed a decrease in the number of regular smokers in the region.

In 2006, nearly 24 per cent of the adult population said they were regular smokers. By last year's census that proportion had dropped to 18 per cent - a difference of 9,282 people.

Among people aged 15 to 19 the change was particularly significant, with the proportion of smokers in this age group dropping from 23.2 per cent in 2006 to 12.6 per cent last year.

This drop was the second-biggest fall nationally, equating to 1,926 fewer young people lighting up.

The results released today also showed Manawatu/Whanganui was home to the highest proportion of community and personal workers in the country. 

"On census night, 10,668 people in the region were employed in this occupation, which was 11.25 per cent of the employed population," Census statistics manager Gareth Meech said.

This aligns with industry figures, which show that 11.9 per cent of employed people in the Manawatu-Wanganui region work in the health care and social assistance industry. 

"This local breakdown of census information is some of the most important, as it will help communities and service providers plan for the future," Mr Meech said.

"Providers of local services such as health, education, community, and recreational facilities can use census data to form a picture of the region and what it needs to succeed." 

Fewer people identify with religious groups

More people are turning away from organised religion with the number of people in Palmerston North with no religious affiliation increasing from 26,529 in 2006 to 32,133.

This represented 40.1 per cent of the city's population.

In a trend repeated across the Manawatu/Whanganui region, the number of people who identified as one of the major Christian denominations decreased.

In Palmerston North, the number of Sikhs increased from 48 to 165, while the number of Hindus went up from 696 to 1143.

Incomes rise

Palmerston North had the highest median household income across the wider Manawatu.

The median income in the city rose from $48,100 in 2006 to $58,500 in 2013, a rise of 21.6 per cent.

The number of households earning more than $100,000 in Palmerston North rose from 3,687 to 5,706.

In Manawatu District, the median household income was $57,700, up from $46,700 in 2006, while in Horowhenua the figure was just $39,200, up from $33,100 in 2006.

Manawatu Standard