An improvement in Canterbury's fortunes is signalled in the latest Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC) quarterly report, but the predicted great rebuild action remains elusive.
Construction employment jumped a quarter between December and March and the number of building consents was trending up, meaning more building work was imminent, the report on the March quarter said.
"Consents have been quite erratic since the February earthquake, probably timed with land decisions, insurance payments and the capacity of the Christchurch City Council to process consents."
Early indicators of a pickup in construction work could be seen toward the end of last year.
The value of building work increased 19 per cent between the third and the final quarter of 2011, driven by a 23 per cent increase in non-residential construction.
Residential construction activity showed a 15 per cent pickup as well.
However, there were still a lot of plans to be developed before the expected flood of rebuild work came on stream, the report said.
Conflicting migration statistics paint a murky picture of the region, however, the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research has reported South Island firms were finding a short supply of skilled workers.
"As the rebuild picks up, if migration continues to be strained, ensuring that a skilled and adequate workforce is available to enable the city and region to recover and grow is going to be vitally important," the CDC report said.
The CDC is the Christchurch City Council's economic development arm.