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Most Chch businesses doing well or coping, MED says

Thursday 2nd June 2011

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A Ministry of Economic Development update on the Christchurch economy reaches the "tentative interpretation" that most businesses in the earthquake-hit city are either doing well or coping.

But it also acknowledges signs of significant household stress in the short term, while some businesses are experiencing significant difficulties and may not survive.

Tourism, retail and export education were among sectors of the economy hit harder than others.

The Paymark index indicated spending in Canterbury fell to 60% of normal immediately after the February 22 quake, but had now stabilised around 95% of normal levels, the update said.

At the same time, the number of entities leaving the Canterbury region following the quake lifted from 535 in February to 1808 in April.

Job vacancy numbers fell sharply and clearly after the quake, but recovered to pre-quake levels by the second week of March, and by April vacancies for all industry groups had increased, the update said.

Market rents had risen in the first four months of 2011, lifting $32 or 10.9% over the period.

About 10,200 students, or 13.4% of the total school population of Christchurch city, Selwyn district, and Waimakiriri district re-enrolled elsewhere in the country. By May 10, 3660 students had returned to their original school, leaving 6546 still away.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the data was clear evidence "things are by no means as bad as some doomsayers predicted they would be".

While job losses were inevitable given the scale of destruction and disruption to the business community, it was pleasing to see unemployment benefit registrations well shy of the many thousands some people had forecast, he said.

Since the February earthquake the number of Cantabrians on an unemployment benefit has risen by 750. Last week 255 Cantabrians went off benefits into work.



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