Record low unemployment and increasing interest rates will continue to impact Central Otago for the foreseeable future, according to a report presented to the Central Otago District Council (CODC) last month.

Economic development manager Nick Lanham presented to council his six monthly update.

There were just 51 job seekers registered in Central Otago in February, down from 273 during the first Covid lockdown. Prior to Covid there was an average of 70 registered as looking for work.

Increasing interest rates were affecting some households already but with half of all mortgages due for refixing this year the wider economic impact would not be felt until next year, Mr Lanham said.

A youth transition to employment collaborative project was under way involving secondary schools, the CODC, Queenstown Lakes District Council, Education Ministry and other groups aimed at increasing students awareness of local employment opportunities. The first inschool events were scheduled for this month.

Cr Tamah Alley said it was great to see the work going into the schools to help those who had gone back for another year and decided it was not for them.

Cr Stu Duncan asked if there was any work being done to assist people to achieve heavy traffic licences as the trucking industry was short on drivers and the cost of getting those licences was very high.

Mr Lanham said it was something that was concerning and could be investigated.

Central Mahi, a campaign to attract staff to Central Otago during the peak demand summer months reached more than 340,000 people and the advertisements were seen more than 1 million times, Mr Lanham said.

Continuing to look into the council’s role in housing and options to increase seasonal worker accommodation would be a focus for the rest of the year, Mr Lanham said.

Finding ways to reduce and utilise waste fruit had been explored and was another area of investigation, he said.

His next report would be made atthe end of October.