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.