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Labour Shortage Straining Business, Delta drives down confidence: Survey Finds

New Zealand’s labour shortage is at an unprecedented level, and is straining employers and employees alike, the latest Central New Zealand Business Confidence Survey has found. 

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Nearly half of all businesses surveyed listed a shortage of skilled labour as the main barrier to their business - with 75% saying it is harder to find staff than this time last year, and a similar number experiencing increased salary expectations. 

"The shortage of workers is hitting every industry in our region," said Business Central and Wellington Chamber Chief Executive Simon Arcus. "There’s no doubt that these issues are having impacts on businesses - their operations, bottom line, and mental wellbeing." 

Three quarters of businesses are seeing staff workload increase because of the labour shortage, with nearly as many respondents worried about the additional stress being placed on both management and staff. 

"These skills issues, while exacerbated by the pandemic-related challenges, have largely remained unaddressed for some time. Skill shortages remain the number issue barrier for businesses. We join BusinessNZ in their calls for work visas to be granted for all industries and more certainty in the Government’s immigration plans for 2022. 

The labour shortage takes place against a backdrop of falling business confidence in the wake of the Delta Variant outbreak. While business confidence is up from the early pandemic lows, it has slipped from a year ago and since the August outbreak, and now sits in line with post Global Financial Crisis lows. Net confidence in the National economy sits at -19%, and +16% in the future of their own business - both low by historical standards. 

Other cost pressures are mounting on business with 72% of businesses finding it harder to source the required materials and products for their business, compared to this time last year. Difficulties with global supply chains and access to raw materials scored highly among business concerns. 

The survey was conducted over a three-week period in early-December, with 250 businesses. 

The survey was undertaken by Business Central and the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, a membership organisation which represents business throughout the Central New Zealand region, as part of the wider BusinessNZ network. 

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