Employment growth and workforce by sector

Why is this important?

Changes to numbers of employees in different workforce sectors helps us understand the labour market. The workforce includes everyone in paid work, plus people who are unemployed but actively seeking work. Businesses and their employees are classified based on their predominant activity. The term ‘sector’ is often used interchangeably with the term ‘industry’.

Key points

  • In 2018 the Selwyn District had the highest rate of employment growth, up 5.3% from the previous year. Waimakariri had 2%, while Christchurch had 3.2%. The Greater Christchurch area had employment growth of 3.2%.
  • The top five business sectors in the Greater Christchurch urban area in 2018 were:
    • Health care and social assistance (28,664 employees)
    • Manufacturing (25,742)
    • Construction (25,153)
    • Retail Trade (24,961)
    • Professional Scientific and Technical Services (21,069)

These 5 sectors out of 19 employed 125,589 people, 52% of the total workforce.

Note this is an interactive chart and you can click on the legend items to change what is shown on the graph.


Over the past decade Waimakariri and Selwyn Districts have had higher rates of employment growth than Christchurch, but the districts have far fewer employees than their city neighbour.

The construction sector has experienced the most growth in the past decade from 12,812 in 2009 to 25,153 in 2018, an increase of 96%. Rebuilding Christchurch since the 2010-11 earthquakes has required many new employees in the sector, although there has been a gradual decline in the percentage of workers employed since 2015, as building projects are finished.

In 2009, manufacturing employed the highest percentage of workers (14.1) however this industry declined to 10.8% of the total workforce in 2018.

Data notes

Business and employment data is grouped into sectors using the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification codes (ANZSIC codes). A business or other type of organisation is classified to an ANZSIC code based on its predominant activity.

Data information and downloads

Data Source

Statistics New Zealand Annual Business Frame Survey

Data Access

Tailored request for Christchurch City Council

Date Updated

Annual (to February 2018)

Data Download

Download tables here [XLSX, 30 KB]

Page Updated

May 2019

Data breakdowns available 

Geographic  Area

Greater Christchurch Urban Area, Christchurch City Council, Waimakariri District Council, Selwyn District Council (data back to 2000)

Other download variables

Number of Businesses, Canterbury and New Zealand totals and percentages

Links to other information and reports