An analysis by two Christchurch economists has underlined the value of the farming sector to the country during the Level 4 COVID-19 lockdown.
Output grew 2.7%, with growth strongest in the agriculture industry, which increased 30%.
"The growth in agriculture output was the result of excellent growing conditions," Statistics NZ national accounts manager Rachael Milicich says. "If we excluded agriculture, labour productivity would have fallen."
Labour productivity measures the quantity of goods and services (output) produced for each hour of labour. The latest figures show that if 100 products could have been produced in one hour of labour in 1996, then 126 could have been produced in one hour of labour in 2012. The number of paid hours of labour per week in productivity statistics increased 1.4% in the year ended March 2012, to 54.9 million hours.
In the March 2012 year, multifactor productivity, which measures how efficiently goods and services are produced in the economy, grew 0.7%. This was because outputs (goods and services) grew faster than the inputs (hours of labour, and capital, like land and buildings) used to produce them. Growth in this area shows more efficient production and is often associated with technological change, organisational change, or economies of scale.
Productivity is regarded as key to increasing New Zealand's standard of living and is a major driver of gross domestic product – the main indicator of economic activity. Productivity statistics cover about 80% of the economy and exclude government administration and defence, health, and education.