Clarence Valley Independent

Youth unemployment continues to defy ‘jobs explosion’

Geoff Helisma |

In April last year, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis’s newsletter told his constituents about Clarence Valley’s big jobs explosion.

However, despite the creation of many jobs connected with various major infrastructure projects still under construction in the valley, unemployment figures have remained stubbornly high.

In fact, they’ve been rising ever since.

“The January figures for the Coffs Harbour Grafton Labour Market Area’s (LBA) reveal that the LBA’s 24.3 per cent youth unemployment rate is the second highest in Australia, after the Queensland outback region, which is just below 26 per cent.

The May 18, 2018 figures rated overall unemployment at 8.3 per cent; currently the rate is 8.9 per cent.

Youth unemployment over the same period has risen from 21.5 to 24.3 per cent.

The cumulative employment growth figure (which is a measure of the growth in total employed persons aged 15 years and over who performed an hour of work or more in a specific week, or who had a job but were not at work in that specific week) showed some improvement, reaching a high of 2.7 per cent in September 2018, however, the latest measurement puts it at 0.07 per cent.

Significantly, though, the participation rate – a measure of the proportion of the working age population who are actively engaged in the labour market, either by working or looking for work – has fallen from 63.3 per cent in May 2018, to 61.1 per cent in January 2019.

Meanwhile, the NSW unemployment rate is just 4.6 per cent and youth unemployment is at 10.2 per cent.

A report released last week by Brotherhood of St Laurence, Smashing the Avocado Debate, Australia’s youth unemployment hotspots, points out that a quarter of a million youths (15 to 24-year-olds) are unemployed across Australia.

“In the Coffs Harbour-Grafton region, youth unemployment rates were 13 percentage points higher than the NSW average.

“In Victoria, both Bendigo and Shepparton experienced youth unemployment rates of more than 17 per cent, well above the state rate of 11.4 per cent.

“In the Queensland Outback region, the 25.7 per cent youth unemployment rate is the highest in Australia, and much higher than the rate for Queensland as a whole.

“It is important to note that the overall unemployment rate (for people aged 15–64 years) for this region is also high, at 13.6 per cent compared with the rate for Australia (5 per cent).

This holds for most of the 20 regions, with a high youth unemployment rate reflecting overall unemployment that’s higher than the national average.”

Brotherhood of St Laurence is based in Melbourne and is “an Australian not-for-profit organisation that works toward a vision of an Australia free of poverty”; the figures it cites are from December 2018.

All other statistics and the graph: © State of New South Wales through the Parliament of New South Wales.

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