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Monday, March 7, 2011

Christchurch earthquake may cull 9000 jobs

Christchurch earthquake may cull 9000 jobs

Last updated 05:00 08/03/2011
About 9000 people in Canterbury could lose their jobs in the next three months following February's devastating earthquake.

Westpac has forecast the Canterbury economy will shrink by 15 per cent this year and unemployment will rise to 7 per cent nationally by June from about 6.8 per cent now as a result of the destruction to businesses and homes from the earthquake on February 22.

Westpac senior economist Dominick Stephens said that implied the loss of about 9000 jobs, most likely to be in Canterbury.

Already, 3171 people have taken the job-loss cover offered by the Government, the latest update from the Minister of Social Welfare's office shows.

That cover is $400 a week in the hand for six weeks to fulltime employees and $240 for part-time employees, whose employer was unable to be contacted or had closed their business permanently.

While the picture for Canterbury is gloomy this year, Westpac saw rapid growth from next year when reconstruction of Christchurch began in earnest.

Westpac said national GDP would shrink 2 per cent and was basing that on an early estimate of $15 billion in new damage from the earthquake.

The $15b represents 20 per cent of Canterbury's capital stock wiped out, or 2.7 per cent of New Zealand's capital stock.

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