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March update to the NZ Activity Index

Issue date:

The March update of the NZ Activity Index (NZAC) released today indicates activity growth of 7.4% compared to March 2020.

This sharp increase in activity growth is expected for both this (March) and next month’s (April) NZAC updates due to the index being presented in terms of annual percentage changes. Given activity remained at normal levels in March 2021, with no change in alert level restrictions, the annual percentage change is relatively high due to the low activity levels in March last year resulting from high COVID-19 alert level restrictions.

A graph of the NZ Activity Index showing a sharp increase for the March 2021 month

Key points to note:

  • The NZAC and most of its constituent indicators show sharp growth compared to March last year, due to low activity levels in March 2020 resulting from COVID-19 alert level restrictions.
  • The Performance of Manufacturing Index (PMI) is at its highest since the survey began in 2002, driven by a strong increase in new orders and production in March.
  • Electronic card spending is up 7% compared to March 2020. Light and heavy traffic indices are up 23% and 32% respectively.
  • Jobseeker numbers have been the lowest since June last year, but still higher than the corresponding March 2020 value.

The next update of the NZAC for April activity is scheduled for publication on 14 May.

For more details, you'll find the NZAC first up in this week's Weekly Economic Update.

To access the data, visit the Stats NZ COVID-19 data portal.

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