Economic activity on the West Coast grew by 1.7% over the year to September 2021, lagging behind the national average of 3.7%.
Buller’s GDP grew by 7.8% over the year to September, one of the highest rates in the country. Grey’s GDP rose by 1.8%, while Westland experienced the biggest decrease in the country with a drop of 4.5%.
Development West Coast (DWC) chief executive Heath Milne said the Delta outbreak and Buller floods have been a setback to the region’s economic recovery.
“While we experienced overall growth for the year to September, the Coast’s GDP fell by 3% during the September quarter. Grey was down 1.9%, Buller down 3.4%, and Westland was fell by 4%.”
Infometrics estimates that only 59% of the West Coast workforce could operate during the Level 4 lockdown in August, below the 63% that could operate nationally.
“West Coast businesses have faced significant challenges over the past year with the snap lockdown, supply chain issues and increasing costs, but one of the biggest issues remains the reduction in tourism spending.”
Mr Milne said there are some bright spots to for the West Coast economy, with the construction industry having plenty of work in the pipeline.
“Annual residential consents are up 62%, encouraged by a 35% surge in the value of houses in the region and the recovery from the Buller floods.”
“Through Kānoa, the government has injected significant funding into projects across the region. This investment is undoubtably contributing to the growth we are seeing in the construction and infrastructure sectors.”
The West Coast led the country in growth in non-residential consents, up 131%. The annual value of non-residential consents in the West Coast is now worth $48m, more than double the consented work a year ago, and a high point since 2017.
Despite the ongoing struggles in Glacier Country, Westland District experienced a 7% rise in employment levels – the biggest increase in the country.
“The impact of COVID on employment in the Tourism sector has not effectively changed from last year with the job growth coming from other areas. The top growing industries in Westland were manufacturing, public sector, health, retail, education, professional services and construction.
“Notably, these industries weren’t particularly hard hit by COVID, so the growth is genuine rather than simply clawing back losses from 2020.”
According to Infometrics, high dairy prices will also be a boost to the West Coast region. The West Coast’s dairy pay-out for the 2022 season is expected to be $435m, $42m more than the 2021 season.