Regional unemployment hits 12-year high
Article printed in The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW) April 24, 2015.
Unemployment in regional Australia has reached its all-time highest since 2003. At 7.3% it is painfully obvious that jobs are starting to become more city-centric. This is supported by the Regional Australia Institute’s (RAI) analysis of this week’s Bureau of Statistics quarterly employment data. The largest discrepancies in unemployment levels are the coal-producing regions such as Newcastle and Hunter Valley. Hunter Valley unemployment rates alone have gone from 2.3% to over 12% since 2012. It is obvious that the downturn of the mining sector is being felt a lot more acutely than others.
The Bureau of Statistics employment data demonstrate that more employment opportunities are opening in the service sector, which typically have been stronger in cities. Around Australia the data demonstrates the problems that regional and rural Australia is facing with employment. The RAI have predicted that the investment period of mining is essentially over and their deputy CEO, Jack Archer, reports that regional Australia must learn to adapt their economies and look elsewhere for future possibilities.
“The much-discussed opportunities for agriculture and tourism in Asia are still on the table for many regions, but this potential hasn’t yet been converted into jobs, and may remain that way unless regional business act now,” Mr Archer said.
“It is also time to focus on the capacity for growth in the regional services sector, [because] regional development has not yet focused on growth opportunities in services but, with the long term shift in job demand to these parts of the economy, it is essential that we do so now.”