29 Mar 2014

'Downside' to low unemployment

7:33 am on 29 March 2014

A Christchurch business leader is warning record low unemployment in the city will "cannabalise" the country's long term workforce.

Rebuilding in Christchurch's CBD.

Rebuilding in Christchurch's CBD. Photo: PHOTO NZ

Canterbury Development Corporation chief executive Tom Hooper told the Seismics in the City Forum in Christchurch that the present 2 percent unemployment rate in the male working age population is as close as the city will ever get to full employment.

But he said the risk is that, long term, industries will be "cannabalised" because the likes of dairy workers will switch trades to become a part of the rebuild for the high salaries. The city was already losing bus drivers from their $45,000-a-year jobs in favour of driving trucks for $60,000.

Mr Hooper said the only solution is to create a larger workforce by encouraging migration and other means.

"We need to start looking at how do we get working mums back into the workforce, how do we start tapping into some of the over-65 wisdom that's in our economy but currently not in our workforce."