Hutt economy picks up steam


‘‘Re­ju­ve­nat­ing Lower Hutt is much more than a catch cry.’’

Lower Hutt’s economy is show­ing signs of life with res­i­den­tial build­ing fig­ures for the year to June hit­ting their high­est lev­els since the late 1970s.

Over the last year 325 dwellings were built, with a value of more than $65 mil­lion. It is still well short of Hutt City Coun­cil’s tar­get to build 6000 new homes by 2032.

The in­crease in res­i­den­tial builds is not the only sign that the Lower Hutt economy is on the rise.

In the fi­nan­cial year to June, un­em­ploy­ment fell from 7.6 per cent to 5.6 per cent and elec­tronic card re­tail spend­ing in the June 2017 quar­ter rose 6.5 per cent com­pared to the same pe­riod in 2016.

The to­tal re­tail spend for the 2017 fi­nan­cial year was $1.14 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Mar­ketView data.

Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wal­lace said the coun­cil could not claim all the credit for the im­prove­ments in the city’s eco­nomic per­for­mance

It had, how­ever, worked hard to build part­ner­ships with lo­cal busi­nesses, com­mu­nity groups and ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions. It had also tar­geted in­cen­tives for business de­vel­op­ment in the cen­tral city.

‘‘Re­ju­ve­nat­ing Lower Hutt is much more than a catch cry. Be­neath the vi­sion is a great deal of hard graft and thought­ful plan­ning to en­sure growth is man­aged and sus­tain­able and en­hances the Lower Hutt life­style.’’

His­tor­i­cally, Lower Hutt’s economy had a run of high growth un­til the eco­nomic re­forms of the 1990s, when many large in­dus­trial em­ploy­ers closed. The global fi­nan­cial cri­sis in 2008 also put the brakes on eco­nomic per­for­mance, re­sult­ing in a long pe­riod of low growth.

How­ever, re­cent eco­nomic data shows the num­ber of busi­nesses in Lower Hutt rose from 9627 in 2013, when coun­cil in­tro­duced eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in­cen­tives, to 9990 in 2016.

Be­tween the 2015 and 2016 fi­nan­cial years, Lower Hutt’s av­er­age house­hold in­come jumped 15.2 per cent from $88,775 to $102,257, ac­cord­ing to Statis­tics New Zealand.

In 2016, Lower Hutt’s pop­u­la­tion reached 103,400, up 1.4 per cent from 2015. Wal­lace said that was not a mas­sive in­crease but it was sig­nif­i­cant given the high­est an­nual in­crease since 2001 was 0.7 per cent.

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