28 Sep 2020

Covid-19: Auckland job losses not as severe as predicted

7:12 pm on 28 September 2020

New figures show Auckland's job losses have been far fewer than predicted, despite the city going into lockdown last month.


Auckland Photo: 123RF

The council forecast 250 jobs a day would go during level 3 but the latest Jobseeker figures show an average of 93 people a day have gone on the benefit in Auckland since 7 August - days before level 3 was reimposed.

Nationally, an average 219 people have accessed the Jobseeker benefit each day.

Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens said the cost of lockdown has not been as severe as first thought.

"I've been stunned at the resilience of the economy to lockdowns. The number of job losses has been less than expected and the impact on GDP has been at the more moderate end of estimates. What that indicates is that the cost of a lockdown is not what we thought," he said.

"The economy has been hit hard by Covid but it's more adaptable and more able to weather the hit than people gave it credit for initially."

Stats NZ's employment indicator for August showed there were slightly more jobs nationwide in August, than before the pandemic. Auckland job numbers held steady in August compared to July.

Stephens said it's easier to predict where jobs will be lost.

"It's easy to toss up who's going to lose their job or what business is going to be impacted by Covid but it's much harder to figure out who's going to take advantage of new opportunities."

Bucking the trend is RocketWerkz, a gaming studio that's hiring not firing.

Chief executive Dean Hall said the business hit a low before the first nationwide lockdown, making some staff redundant.

"Since then things have actually been going pretty well since we adjusted, so much so that we increased our staff from 59 just before the first lockdown through to 73 staff now and we're actually planning to hire another 10 before the end of the year."

RocketWerkz is about to move into the top floors of Auckland's newest waterfront tower.

Hall said the business had fared well.

"We realised that everybody else in the world was facing the same issue, so we've been leveraging the fact that New Zealand's largely unscathed from Covid to be able to do our most collaborative work, when others are really struggling."

In Auckland's central city, the once busy Skyworld Food Court at the top of Queen Street has been deserted and only three stalls remain.

The building's operations manager Joon Go said most businesses left after the first full-scale lockdown.

"The Covid-19 situation has impacted really badly on our business and the entire building, all the business owners here have suffered a lot."

He said they opened a bakery, Bake My Day, in the food court two weeks ago.

"I see customers consistently coming in but obviously the sales are not as good as I expected. Probably this business will be successful but in the meantime we need to survive."

Go expects it will be two years before business picks up.

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