Changing face in Christchurch as rebuild continues

Thousands of wrecked home await removal or demolition in the Avonside area (Chris Hutching)

Construction has overtaken manufacturing as the dominant industry in the greater-Christchurch region, and population growth has lagged behind the national average, according to last year's census.

The building sector replaced manufacturing as the region's biggest industry, employing one-in-eight people, a rise of 59 percent since the 2006 census. Employment in retail and hospitality also declined. The location of employment has also shifted with the number of people working in the central city halving, to 19,419 from 39,213 city workers.

The figures show Christchurch's central city population fell 2 percent, though the wider region's population swelled 2.6 percent to 436,056 people since the last census figures in 2006. The national population increased 5.3 percent over the same period. Nearby district Waimakariri has grown 17 percent, or 7,000 people, while Selwyn district rose by 33 percent, or 11,000 people.

Overall, 21 percent of people in greater-Christchurch were born overseas, below the national average of 25 percent, but rising from 19.6 percent in 2006. The Maori population also grew 12 percent to 34,371.

The promise of construction work brought people from across the world. Of those born in Ireland who have arrived in Christchurch since the Canterbury earthquakes, 52 percent work in construction, similarly for those born in Brazil and arriving in the past two years 48 percent work in construction. About a quarter of those arriving from the Philippines, England and Scotland since the earthquakes work in construction too.

Youth unemployment was 12.5 percent, well below the New Zealand average of 18.4 percent. Unemployment in greater-Christchurch was 4.7 percent, higher than 4.2 percent in 2006, though still below the national average of 7.1 percent at the time of the census.

(BusinessDesk)

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