Last week Statistics NZ released their business demography statistics for 2013 which provides a range of information about businesses in New Zealand. One of the really interesting bits of information included within the release are employee counts by geographic area, which can tell us the number of jobs in each area unit. The data is collected annually in February each year and is available back to 2000. So what’s happening with employment in Auckland?

First of all, at a region wide level, you can see that at an increase of just under 6,300 jobs the increase was less than it had been for the prior two years. However, what we did see is that the total number of jobs surpassed what we had prior to the GFC, which is very significant. Note this doesn’t mean the unemployment rate is lower as we have had population growth and more young people entering the job market. You can also see that in the last few years there has been quite a jump in percentage of jobs in Auckland compared to the rest of the country with the number increasing by more than 1% in the last few years to a high of 33.5%. This suggests that Auckland is performing better than the rest of NZ which lines up with other economic data we have seen.

Auckland Employment 2000-2013

However the really interesting part is when we look at what is happening at a more detailed level. For each area unit I have assigned it to one of the following

  • Rural Northwest – Rural areas and towns to the North and west outside the main Auckland Urban area. This includes the likes of Huapai and Warkworth.
  • Hibiscus – The urban area of Orewa, Silverdale and the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.
  • North Shore – The old North Shore City Council area.
  • West Auckland – The urban parts of the old Waitakere City Council area.
  • Central City – The CBD and neighbouring fringe suburbs like Freemans Bay, Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Eden Terrace, Grafton, Newmarket and Parnell.
  • Other Isthmus – The old Auckland City council area outside of the Central City.
  • South Auckland – The urban areas of the old Manukau City and Papakura District council areas.
  • Rural Southeast – The rural areas and towns in the South and East of Auckland including Pukekohe.

The results are below, however for the keen eyed among you, the numbers don’t add up completely to the ones above as there are a small handful of jobs noted as being on one of the harbours or islands around the region. Due to how small the number, is I excluded them from the table below.

Auckland Employment Breakdown 2000-2013

When you start to go through the results there are some quite interesting trends, especially over the last few years. The table below shows the change in job numbers over the same time period.

Auckland Employment Breakdown Change 2000-2013

Looking at what’s happening recently, what’s surprising is just how strong the growth has been in the central city over the last few years. In total it accounts for about 52% of the increases in employment that has occurred, and over the last year that figure is up to around 78%. These numbers are absolutely massive but also show just how strong the demand for the central city is.

Looking at the other parts of the region, over the last year the only other growth of note has been in the North with both the North Shore and Hibiscus areas seeing any significant change. The one area that is particularly concerning is West Auckland where there are now fewer jobs than there were in 2004. I wonder if anything can or should be done to try and reverse the change.

Another area that these numbers highlight is just how many jobs as a total number there actually are in the central city area (map of which is below). Percentage wise it accounts for about 24.5% of all employment in the region however as a total number there are more people working in the central city than all of South Auckland, more than the Hibiscus area, North Shore and West Auckland combined and almost the same as all of the jobs in the rest of the old Auckland City area which includes all of the industrial areas around Onehunga, Penrose and Mt Wellington.

Auckland Central City CAUs

Of course this strong employment growth comes recently after we found out that there had also been some really strong population growth in the area.

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  1. But what about all those people who say we don’t need CRL because Auckland’s employment is incredibly dispersed? Or those who say fast internet will lead to employment dispersal?

    1. It is interesting that as it gets easier and easier to turn entire role types into remote jobs, the companies best-placed to take that path are doing more and more to bring employees together. Microsoft, Google, Apple, they’re all beautifully placed to have nearly their entire workforces based all over the world, but all of them and Google in particular go to huge lengths to build places where employees are brought together.

      The level of denial in the “teleworking is the future, offices are dead, CBDs are dead” crowd is quite staggering. That these big, high-tech corporations actively pursue having employees in close proximity says that remote working is hugely limiting to effective knowledge transfer and idea growth. The handful of remote workers (based outside Auckland, so actually remote) my employer has make full contribution but nobody thinks that the company would be anywhere near as innovative and productive if we all worked remote.

    2. I work for one of the largest tech companies in the world, and it’s entirely possible that every person could work remotely, and most do, once or twice a week, including myself . If they could cut their costs (knowing this company) and close all their offices down they would (and they technically could), but it’s just not realistic – it’s not how people work and interact.

      1. Exactly. Having people in the same physical space makes all kinds of informal, unscheduled knowledge transfer possible in ways that simply can’t be replicated through tele-work. It’s impossible to overhear a conversation on a topic about which you have knowledge and then make a contribution. It’s impossible to just strike up a chat while making a coffee and come up with a solution to an issue. It’s impossible to walk past a meeting and be waved in because someone just suddenly realised, on seeing you, that you can immediately add value to the discussion. These things all happen in my office pretty much weekly, and none of them could happen if we were all working from home. The guy who just worked a 110-hour week on a project couldn’t have had three of his colleagues see his exhausted state and decide to hold an impromptu sit-down to talk about ways to improve sharing of work and improvement of process so that such hours don’t have to be done.

        My observation about people who think that tele-work is the future and we can do away with offices is that they tend to be self-employed, working in a low-knowledge-transfer industry (high-skill, but not needing to work collaboratively to progress projects), and often they simply don’t like dealing with other people. Their projection of their work utopia onto society as a whole gets us to the myth that people will be as productive and feel as useful working from home with only Skype for company as they are working in an office with others.

  2. Well any way you slice it these numbers are fascinating and strongly supportive of the CRL:

    Really interesting to compare the previous highs of 2008 numbers with 2013. South Auckland has just got back over that number as has the Shore the others are on parity except poor West Auckland, still struggling, but it is the Central City that is leading the way strongly:

    1. Need to improve West Auckland’s business and employment performance? Radically improve connection with the centre of growth and beyond: Build the CRL
    2. South Auckland has grown strongly this century- keep that going by improving connection without congestion to the rest of the city: Build the CRL
    3. Which area is strongly leading the bounce back from the GFC? The Centre City, reinforce that growth with better connectivity to the rest of the city: Build the CRL.

    1. Agree. One more reason the CRL is required urgently – to increase access to business, school and employment opportunities for West. Most jobs (especially corporate) are central. But issues affecting the wests numbers that should be looked at include Film industry changes, amalgamation of the Council. Tradespeople and their businesses who might not work in cbd but still need good transport access to wider Auckland and to broadband.

    2. Disappointing rnumbers for the west. The impact of the GFC on it’s boat building and film industries has been significant, but I also suspect there’s been a big drop in retail employment – go and take a walk through Henderson town centre (not West City) and you’ll see a huge number of vacant shops. Surely there is a limit to the number of $2 shops that can fill the void…

      This compounds the underlying issue which is that the west has always suffered a lack of employment land relative to its sprawling homogenous residential suburbs. Hence the daily diaspora along the NW motorway while those (like me) who travel against that grain enjoy congestion free travel – whether by private car or PT. In that regard I don’t think that further improvements by the CRL will have a significant impact on job growth, except perhaps on the prospects of New Lynn becoming a viable commercial centre.

      As an aside, it would be really interesting to see a visual representation of Auckland’s employment travel vectors.

      1. Well Capt’n, given that the CRL will transform the west more than anywhere; basically picking up those metro centres and moving them in some cases 20 minutes closer to town I can’t agree with your guess that it won’t do anything. The CRL for the west is the biggest shape changer since the Harbour Bridge moved the Shore functionally adjacent to the city. And residential areas around stations will soon get values comparable to Westmere or Kingsland. People with property close to stations are going to be very happy. This will knock on to employment. Mt Albert, Avondale, New Lynn, as you say, but also Glen Eden…. Time to get in, if that’s your game.

        1. Agree Patrick. CRL will be a radical change for West. And agree with Capt’n description of the problems. I think it’s significant enough that it warrants a Strategy Group to get the business positioning of the west “on track” if you will. One of the advantages of the lack of action is that places like Glen Eden still have the small shops and fine footprint which is ideal from a town planning point of view. CRL and township upgrade which is in the planning could see it really thrive.

    1. Yes nice of the AA to mention public transport but also draw Aucklanders attention to the city’s woeful underinvestment in roading. I mean sometimes it has been less than 95% of transport spending – scandalous.

  3. I hear and concur with your comments there Matt in regards to the strong growth in the CBD and Central Isthmus area.
    Patrick has hit the nail on the head with his comments above and yes that means lets go CRL for starters.

    I had noted the South grew strongly indeed and seems (last year was a tad flat) to be about to take off again looking at developments (and cranes sprouting up (just had a large Tower Crane pop up in the Takanini industrial area so I wonder what large building is going there)). The Shore is also growing strong as well so I wonder if the North Shore Line needs to be sped up and built soon after the CRL.

    What does need to be noted though is what kind of jobs are growing in the CBD and what in the South. If this can be established then maybe some more “friendly” planning policies can be put in place to foster and look after them here and into the future

  4. Matt do you have the data from Stats NZ to enough detail so that can you break the South Auckland area unit into smaller chunks – particularly so that we can see The Airport area units on their own?
    I’m thinking about the Airport as a “CBD sized” employment centre as per the Auckland Airport growth plans post the other day.

    It would be interesting to see how its growth especially over say the last 8 years compares with the CBD and elsewhere in Auckland.

    As thos enumber may help bolster the case for much much better PT to the Airport (not just for passengers, but also for workers).

    I’m not necessarily thinking about bringing the Rail link forward, just evidence that the Airport is growing big enough and growing fast enough that its a proper district level centre in its own right. So that AT can wake up and smell the airplane fumes.

    1. Sure do although the area unit that covers the airport also covers the industrial areas around Kirkbride Rd/Montgomere Rd. Increased from 14510 in 2000 to 22520 in 2013.

      2000 – 2001 – 2002 – 2003 – 2004 – 2005 – 2006 – 2007 – 2008 – 2009 – 2010 – 2011 – 2012 – 2013
      14510 – 14900 – 15090 – 16040 – 17320 – 18720 – 19600 – 20010 – 22240 – 22090 – 21510 – 22110 – 22390 – 22520

      1. Thats ok for it to cover those areas as they’d benefit from better PT with the rest of Auckland.

        Looks like this part of town has grown quite well up until the GFC (2008) and then meandered pretty much on a flat line from there (slight dip in 2009, recovered in 2010)
        Its only now just (just) taking off again.

        Over all its had 50% growth over 14 years since 2000 (14510 to 22520), which is pretty high when compared with your larger areas, even the CBD.
        So it is showing growth thats for sure.

        But its got a long way to grow before its a big town centre.

        1. Some of the other areas along the route aren’t looking so good though, Mangere bridge is down from 2280 in 2000 to 1600 in 2013 and interesting did the opposite over the GFC by increasing. Looking at all jobs along the corridor the change isn’t as dramatic going from 18425 in 2000 to 26300 in 2013

  5. As far as I am aware, high innovation companies get better results with all their staff in one location.Companies that don’t want innovation get some productivity gains from telecommuting.

      1. Bloody iHipsters. Can’t they be predictable, and follow their parent’s example? Stop riding your bikes and get some cars already!

  6. So govt says need employment growth of 25% from now until 2020. Using the 2012 figure of 153,886, growth needs to be 38,471, or divided by 8 years is 4800 per year. So we’re actually right on target for the silly government target that was set to be highly unlikely.
    I suspect rate of growth has slowed because of lack of construction of new A grade space, and conversion of old space to residential.
    However with big new developments like the Fonterra centre, thus freeing up the existing tower, and hopefully should see more new offices come online.
    Thats Customs St/Gore Lane site and the Auckland Star site on Shortland St must surely be coming up for development very soon.

    1. Luke you misread the Governments announcment.
      It wasn’t 25% growth up to 2020, it was 25% growth a year (on year and consistently) until 2020 before they’d consider (consider mind, not build) the CRL 🙂

      1. No Greg they just said that city centre employment increases by 25% over current levels. I don’t read that as year on year increases of 25%. We’ll have more on this tomorrow. They have also said that we don’t have to reach the set targets to start the CRL early but have to showing a strong sign that we will achieve them early.

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