Coronavirus: New graphs depict alarming economic impact of COVID-19 in New Zealand

New graphs depict the alarming economic impact of COVID-19 in New Zealand, showing a sharp drop in business confidence and a massive spike in Jobseeker support. 

Jobseeker recipients have shot up in the past three weeks to April 8, coinciding with the four-week lockdown and Treasury expects the number of people receiving Jobseeker support to continue increasing in the coming weeks. 

One of the graphs released by Treasury as part of its first weekly COVID-19 Economic Dashboard shows Jobseeker support numbers at almost 170,000 in 2020 compared to about 130,000 in 2019. 

Coronavirus: New graphs depict alarming economic impact of COVID-19 in New Zealand
Photo credit: Supplied

Another graph shows how business confidence continues to tumble, falling a further 9 percent to -73 percent in the preliminary April ANZ Business Confidence Outlook survey. 

The graph also shows that business activity has plummeted 34 points with a net 61 percent of firms expecting lower activity in the year ahead - a record low. 

Coronavirus: New graphs depict alarming economic impact of COVID-19 in New Zealand
Photo credit: Supplied

Another graph shows how significantly the Government's COVID-19 wage subsidy scheme has been taken up. Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced on Friday that $9.9 billion has been paid out so far to 1.6 million workers. 

The graph shows that the subsidy has been taken up by firms of all sizes, with larger firms now accessing it at a higher rate, while the majority of the scheme has been dished out to medium-size businesses, with the smallest amount paid out to sole traders. 

Coronavirus: New graphs depict alarming economic impact of COVID-19 in New Zealand
Photo credit: Supplied

Retail spending has also dropped significantly as a result of the strict alert level 4 lockdown rules, with the biggest impact on apparel spending, followed by hospitality, fuel and durables, while consumable spending has gone up. 

That is likely because supermarkets, dairies and pharmacies are some of the only businesses that have been allowed to stay open during the lockdown and they all sell goods intended to be consumed. 

Coronavirus: New graphs depict alarming economic impact of COVID-19 in New Zealand
Photo credit: Supplied

Economic activity has declined sharply during lockdown, which Treasury notes was "expected", with heavy and light vehicle traffic down 60-80 percent on the same time in 2019. 

New Zealand exports have held up while imports are weaker, another graph shows. Exports were up 13.2 percent compared on the same week in March 2019, while total imports were down 3.9 percent, and weaker demand is expected in the coming weeks. 

On the bright side, Chinese domestic activity is slowly recovering, which is good news for New Zealand, as two-way trade between China and New Zealand is worth more than $30 billion, so any recovery in China is a good sign for Kiwis. 

But it's not such a positive picture in the United States. 

Unemployment in the US has massively increased, with jobless claims for the week ending 4 April at 6.61 million, slightly down on last week's record setting week of 6.87 million. Overall, 16 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last three weeks. 

Coronavirus: New graphs depict alarming economic impact of COVID-19 in New Zealand
Photo credit: Supplied

The Government released details on Thursday of what New Zealand would like under alert level 3 when the lockdown is lifted, and Cabinet will decide on Monday if the country is ready for it. 

Shifting to alert level 3 would allow some businesses to return, such as construction workers, which could help to stimulate the economy. Robertson said on Friday he hopes to see construction return as soon as possible. 

It comes as the Ministry of Health reported just eight new cases of the coronavirus in New Zealand on Friday, bringing the total to 1409, while the total number of COVID-related-deaths has increased to 11.

Robertson emphasised that the Government's response to COVID-19 is "a long game, a marathon -  not a sprint", and he warned Kiwis not to start living as if the lockdown has lifted, because that decision is still yet to be made. 

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