One of the trends that the Wellington Regional Strategy is intended to address is the loss of people in the 25-45 age group as young people go on their OE and decide to stay. The release of regional demographic data from this year's census provides an opportunity to examine the age structure across the Wellington region and see how things are looking in this regard. Here's a graph of the four urban councils plus the Kapiti Coast, with the NZ average shown in red for comparison:
The first thing to note is that the commuter cities (Porirua and the Hutts) are pretty similar to the national average, although Porirua has many more children and teenagers. I've shown Kapiti in grey, for very good reason: the stereotype of the Coast as one big retirement home is not far off the mark. But look at Wellington City! There's certainly no lack of 25-49 year olds at the moment, and in fact the proportion of twentysomethings is about 50% higher than the norm.
So I decided to look at the trends for just Wellington City, and found that there has already been a small decline in the proportion of 25-39 year olds, with just a slight increase in the number of 40-44 year olds. What's very striking, though, is the spike in the 20-24 age group:
Is this a surge in the number of postgraduate students? Weta's Wellywood workforce? A rush of hip urbanites zeroing in on a happening city? Or an influx of fresh young policy analysts brought in to feed Thorndon's insatiable appetite for unsullied youth? Whatever it is, it may help explain the continuing health of the hospitality sector, and if they stay on in Wellington rather than heading off for more lucrative overseas careers, perhaps Wellington City can help counteract the youth gap in other parts of the region.
Remember that these figures are for all of Wellington City Council, which includes places like Tawa, Churton Park and Newlands (not exactly known as magnets for people in their early twenties), so a similar graph for central Wellington should show the trend even more strongly. But if the planners behind the regional strategy want to retain these people as the future 25-49 workforce, perhaps there's one simple lesson: make the region more like Wellington City, and less like Kapiti.