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New report highlights major changes in where Kiwis live and work

Research by the Productivity Commission shows how New Zealanders have experienced big changes in the jobs they do and the places they live and work

These changes reflect shifts in the industries in which people work. Between 1976 and 2013 employment in manufacturing declined from 25% to 10% of the workforce. There was, in contrast, significant expansion in employment in professional services, health and education, accommodation and hospitality, and financial services.

Similar trends have been seen in most developing countries, with manufacturing employment declining from 32% of the workforce in 1950 to 9% in 2010 in the United States.

This expansion of employment in services encouraged a reallocation of jobs away from smaller centres to Auckland and to a lesser extent to Wellington and Christchurch.

For smaller cities and towns, the presence of good amenities, such as a good climate or attractive scenery, became more important as manufacturing and primary production became smaller shares of the economy.

The report, New jobs, old jobs: the evolution of work in New Zealand’s cities and towns, shows that between 1976 and 2013 employment in New Zealand’s 30 largest cities and towns increased by 48%, or an average of 1.1% per year. This figure masks considerable variation, with nine urban areas having employment growth of 65% over the period. Employment decreased in four areas, including in Tokoroa where employment shrunk by 44%.