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New jobs, old jobs

Recent international research has highlighted how the effects of changes in technology and markets vary among different parts of a country. Understanding this regional dimension of economic performance can help explain New Zealand’s aggregate productivity performance and how this performance could be improved.

This working paper New jobs, old jobs: the evolution of work in New Zealand's cities and towns uses Census data from 1976 to illustrate the changing economic geography of New Zealand’s cities and regions. This research distinguishes the employment dynamics of New Zealand’s large urban areas from those of smaller ones and shows how the transition paths out of manufacturing and into professional services sectors have varied among urban areas. It also shows how the economies of most cities and towns in New Zealand have become less reliant on specialist industries and more like each other, which has implications for regional labour mobility and government policy.

While the material is largely descriptive, its aim is to unravel the effects of several different forces on the evolution of jobs, towns and cities. This paper is not designed to make predictions about either the future of work or the future of regions. Rather, by documenting the evolution of regional employment patterns in New Zealand over the last 40 years, it aims to help understand how New Zealand has got to its current situation.

Cut to the chase summarises the paper, explaining what it reveals and means for policymakers.



Understanding New Zealand’s productivity performance

Our research aims to understand New Zealand's productivity performance and the role of policy in lifting productivity. 

Explore our publications below, hear us present at an event or contact us with your productivity questions.

A photo by Richard Clyborne of Music Strive

Productivity growth

The goal of our research is to facilitate a move from an economy that grows by using more “inputs” (such as labour or natural resources), to one where productivity plays a greater role in driving economic growth – essentially, working smarter, with greater financial and knowledge capital employed per worker.

Our research explores a wide range of productivity issues: employment, firm dynamics, technology diffusion, innovation, regional development, spatial and public-sector productivity.

Working together

The commissioning of research and the practice of collaboration with others is important to us. It enables us to access subject/sector specialists and benefit from the cross-promotion of ideas and insights. You will find research from the Commission, as well as research we commissioned, below.

Strengthening learning

Our Economics & Research team is independently evaluated every two years to understand how to improve and enhance our impact. See the latest evaluation report and 2020 survey results here.


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