There is almost full employment on the islands with an unemployment rate less than 1.5%. The main employers on Chatham and Pitt Islands are the fishing industry.
The fishing industry generates 60% of the islands income and employs 33% of all workers. The economically important seafood include crayfish, paua and blue cod.
Chatham Islands crayfish are mainly exported to China. Seafood is available for retail sales on the Chatham Island and is part of the allure for visitors with many taking the opportunity to try their hand at fishing.
The fishing industry is managed by a quota system, which limits catch sizes and access to the fishery. The quotas are held, in part, by local individuals, organisations, iwi with the balance held offshore.
The tourism industry is still in its development stage with numbers of visitors growing in recent years. Tourists enjoy the islands natural environment and wildlife along with its cultural heritage and unique location.
Farming & Forestry
Sheep and Cattle farming are economically important and there are about 45,000 hectares in production.
In recent years farmers have been moving to lamb and livestock rearing due to falling wool prices. There is no abattoir on Chatham Island and so livestock is shipped to the mainland.
Some Landowners have planted macrocarpa trees, it takes approximately 25 years to reach maturity, making forestry a long term investment.