After "18 months of misery", the New Zealand economy seems to be turning a corner, according to Brendan O'Donovan, chief economist at Westpac New Zealand. "Times are still very tough, but if it were not for the threat of swine flu, we would say that the recession has already ended," he said. Westpac's forecasts say the NZ economy will contract by 2.1 percent this year but grow by 2.6 percent in 2010. With fewer New Zealanders leaving and more returning, net migration will be a key factor in the recovery, reviving the construction industry and boosting the retail sector. However, the NZ government will watch unemployment figures closely, with the rate predicted to hit seven percent next year.