Energy and dairy give jobs boost

16:00, Nov 08 2012

New Plymouth's political rivals have agreed on one thing.

While figures released yesterday show the highest rate of unemployment nationwide for 13 years, Taranaki has bucked the trend.

The unemployment rate in Taranaki has fallen by 0.4 per cent over the last year.

The Household Labour Force Survey results released by Statistics New Zealand reveal 175,000 people nationwide unemployed, a rate of 7.3 per cent.

Although unemployment in Taranaki rose from 3.8 per cent to 4.8 per cent in the quarter to September it was down from the 5.2 per cent recorded last year.

New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young and Labour MP Andrew Little put the result down to a productive oil and gas industry and strong dairying sector.


"Some people in the oil and gas sector are saying it's the highest activity they have seen in 30 years," Mr Young said.

And projects at Methanex and Shell Todd are contributing significantly to the success of keeping unemployment down.

"It's important that other industries like manufacturing that might be struggling are able to diversify and have relationships across the dairy and petroleum industries," he said.

Upcoming building projects in the province, including Hobson Hotel and the Len Lye Centre, will require skilled contractors that he says will also help boost employment.

While Mr Little sees the importance of oil and gas and the role it plays in sustaining the workforce he says the bigger picture remains bleak.

"It's good that Taranaki continues to do better than other areas of the country in terms of employment but in the bigger picture it's still a long way to go before we can say it's OK."

The rate at which Kiwis are flocking to Australia to seek work effectively masks the true unemployment situation, Mr Little says.

"We're a lot more mobile and able to up and leave the country to find work," he said.

The number of unemployed people in Taranaki for the September quarter was 3200.

Taranaki employment rates have risen in the past year, up from 65.5 per cent in September 2011 to 66.5 per cent in the 2012 September quarter.

Taranaki Daily News