Christchurch workers earning more than elsewhere – study


A study has found Christchurch residents are more likely to have jobs and be earning higher wages than similar workers elsewhere.

MOTU Economic and Public Policy Research Trust has released a study into the effects on employees of the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes.

It found that workers have "bounced back from short-term job loss and are now more likely to have jobs, less likely to be on the dole, and have higher earnings on average than similar workers elsewhere."

MOTU says a similar effect was seen after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.   Demand for workers rose at the same time as many potential workers had left for other regions.

Statistics NZ says the Christchurch population shrank by four percent in the two years to June 2012.

MOTU's Senior Fellow and co-author of the paper Arthur Grimes says ""While Canterbury workers' employment outcomes deteriorated after the February 2011 quake, those workers were more likely to be employed three years later, and to have higher accumulated earnings."

"At the same time, they were less likely to be at the same employer, and more likely to have migrated to jobs in other New Zealand regions compared to similar workers elsewhere."

MOTU says there is evidence that the Earthquake Support Subsidy achieved its goal of delaying redundancies. That meant that when their jobs ended they had more chance of finding another job locally.

Between September 2010 and March 2014 there was a 59 percent jump in the number of construction workers in Christchurch.

Other industries, like retail and hospitality, initially slowed, but are now growing at above the national average.

Not all workers have been affected positively. Women aged 25-54 and low-skilled women in Greater Christchurch have persistently lower earnings than expected. MOTU says this is consistent with the shift towards construction jobs, which employ more men.

Workers in firms located in badly affected areas have had persistently worse employment outcomes than workers in less affected areas within Christchurch.

But Dr Grimes says "Workers in both low and high earthquake impact areas are now less likely to be on the dole and more likely to have a job due to the increase in job opportunities."

The study was commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.