Hundreds of businesses leave Canterbury

9:32 pm on 2 June 2011

More than 1300 businesses have left the Canterbury region since the February earthquake and unemployment has risen almost 20%, official figures show.

The Ministry of Economic Development released a range of data on Wednesday showing how businesses in the region are faring.

Electronic transaction figures from Paymark show a significant number of businesses or organisations left the region following the magnitude-6.3 quake on 22 February.

Ministry of Social Development figures show the unemployment rate has risen by 18%, when elsewhere in New Zealand it has declined.

In a more positive sign of recovery, Paymark data shows that consumer spending is back to 95% of pre-earthquake levels.

Its figures show that 255 companies have registered in the area since January this year.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee is cautiously welcoming the data on spending and company registrations, saying it is clear things are not as bad as some doomsayers had predicted.