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Small business employment improves post lockdown

The number of jobs in small businesses across New Zealand grew 1.4 percent during October and were now above pre-crisis levels, according to global small business platform Xero.

The company released its Xero Small Business Insights (XSBI) in the last quarter of 2020, as we went to print.

Craig Hudson, Xero

That followed the strong recovery from the initial downturn experienced in April due to the initial nationwide lockdown.

Small business revenue remained relatively flat, decreasing by 0.4 percent during the period, compared to the previous year.

But Xero’s managing director for New Zealand & Pacific Islands, Craig Hudson, said the summer break offered Kiwis the opportunity to dig in and support their local businesses.

“Now’s the time for Kiwis to make a commitment to buying local and supporting the small business economy in their communities,” he said.

Support local hospitality

“This is especially true of our hospitality industry, which needs our continued support after three consecutive months of negative year-on-year revenue growth.

“For those who can, get in some domestic tourism, eat at local restaurants and choose local products when buying gifts. This will help the nation’s economic recovery immensely, and help the country end the year on a high note.”

Hudson said it was encouraging to see employment figures growing, which remained in line with traditional seasonal trends.

“With the exception of hospitality, jobs in all industries across the country have recovered to, at or above pre-crisis levels,” he said.

“The manufacturing and retail industries in particular have seen good recovery during the month.

“Looking at the hospitality sector, we saw jobs fall early in the crisis and they have remained pretty flat since then, despite revenues improving.”

Hudson said a restricted labour supply due to border restrictions, coupled with fears of new lockdowns, meant small business owners were working longer hours without hiring new staff.

But he hoped to see that change, especially moving through Christmas and the summer break.

Positive growth indications

Compared to pre-crisis levels, there was positive growth in job figures in Canterbury (6.7 percent), Hawke’s Bay (5.4 percent)), Wellington (5.2 percent), Bay of Plenty (4.7 percent) and Northland (3.3 percent) as at the end of October.

However, Auckland (-2.9 percent) and Queenstown (-5.0 percent) were yet to completely recover the jobs lost during the initial COVID-19 lockdown.

Outside of Otago (-4.3 percent) and Waikato (-5.1 percent), small business revenues were up year-on-year in October in Northland (8.5 percent), Bay of Plenty (3.8 percent), Auckland (1.2 percent), Canterbury (0.5 percent) and Hawke’s Bay (0.4 percent), according to Xero data.

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