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West Coast population declines amid bleak economic forecast

Despite the country experiencing record population growth, the number of people living in the West Coast fell, highlighting struggles in the region from low commodity prices and a poor economic forecast, says Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark.

“The latest MBIE West Coast Growth Study contains some worrying figures for the Coast, showing the region is lagging behind the rest of the country. Annual median household income in 2013 was $55,000 compared to $63,800 nationally.

“Even more concerning is that the population fell between 2013 and 2015 and expectations lag behind the rest of New Zealand.

“In the words of MBIE, ‘this forecast is not particularly positive, emphasising why it is important that opportunities for growth are identified and pursued’.

“That is a message the Government needs to hear. The opportunities identified must be backed up by funding from central government.

“It’s time for National to get serious about the regions and work with business, community and local government to develop a real plan, backed by money to deliver the gains needed for the Coast.

“Labour’s Regional Growth Fund to back up regional development plans is what is needed to get struggling regions back on track,” says David Clark.

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