Recovery brings 15,000 new jobs to Canterbury

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 05:00 08/05/2013
David Devine
JOSEPH JOHNSON/Fairfax NZ

STAFF HARD TO GET: Daveron Scaffolding, owned by David Devine, is working on projects including the Arts Centre in Worcester Blvd.

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Fifteen thousand jobs have been created and filled in Canterbury in the past year, new figures reveal.

Thousands are finding work in construction, healthcare, social work, and at hotels, cafes, and restaurants as Christchurch's recovery continues to ramp up, bringing the city's jobs total back to pre-quake levels.

Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend last night said the jobs growth reflected the region's economy growing at nearly 8 per cent.

"We're just at the beginning of this; those figures reflect the beginning of the recovery phase and we're going up and up," Townsend said.

In the March Quarterly Employment Survey Canterbury had 235,400 fulltime and part-time jobs, Statistics New Zealand said yesterday.

That was a 6.8 per cent increase from 220,400 in the March 2012 quarter, and up on 231,700 in the March 2011 quarter.

In the December 2010 quarter, before the devastating February 22 earthquake, there were 234,900 jobs.

The 6.8 per cent increase from the 2012 March quarter was the largest annual percentage increase in the Canterbury region since the March 2005 quarter, a Statistics New Zealand spokesman said.

"I think we're seeing a recovery generally post-quake, not quite the peak of previous [quarters] but getting towards there."

Canterbury's fulltime employment for March 2013 rose 7.6 per cent from the previous year, while part-time employment rose 4.6 per cent.

The industries with the largest annual rise in filled jobs in Canterbury were construction, healthcare and social assistance, accommodation and food services including hotels, cafes, and restaurants.

ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley said that while various measures had shown strong employment growth in Canterbury in the second half of 2012, it was not clear how many people were moving into the quake-hit region.

"The signs are all there that jobs growth is picking up quite sharply . . . In terms of people moving to Canterbury there aren't any hard figures or anything up to date."

David Devine, owner of Daveron Scaffolding, is among those who has hired in the last year.

He added 15 newcomers over the past 12 months to take total staff to 45. They are in about 10 gangs around the city working on residential building and repairs and commercial sites.

"The building industry was pretty stuffed before the earthquake if you ask a lot of people, even the bigger companies . . . [now] it's very hard to get staff," Devine said.

Shaun Hubbard, South Island regional manager for Aecom, said the design and project management firm had been on a growth spurt, hiring dozens of staff including new migrants.

The firm had about 25 staff in Cashel St when the February 22, 2011 quake hit. It now had 100 staff with more being hired to fill geotechnical and architectural needs.

Highly trained staff had been hired within New Zealand and across the globe.

"I suppose we've taken on 40 to 45 in the last year . . . this is the growth hot spot in New Zealand," Hubbard said.

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