Rising regional unemployment ’emergency’ election issue

Average unemployment rates for August, September and October 2014. Source: ABS.

Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton and Geelong have emerged as employment flashpoints in the state election, recording increases in joblessness that dwarf those in Melbourne.

A Fairfax Media analysis of regional labour force data shows the average unemployment rate in Ballarat has surged from 2.5 per cent to 6.4 per cent in the space of a year. The unemployment rate in Bendigo has jumped from 5.1 per cent to 8 per cent.

Fairfax has averaged the unemployment rate for the past three months in each of the regions identified by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. It has compared the result for the average of August, September and October in 2013.

In Shepparton, hit by uncertainty about the future of fruit cannery SPC Ardmona, unemployment has climbed from 5.25 per cent to 7.4 per cent.

In Geelong, hit by the planned withdrawal of companies such as Ford, unemployment has jumped from 5 per cent to 8.2 per cent.

The figures shed new light on last week’s claim by Treasurer Michael O’Brien that regional employment had “increased by 1000 people over the year to October”.

Read the full story by Peter Martin & Henrietta Cook, Brisbane Times, 17 November 17 2014.

Join us in Melbourne to discuss these issues at the Australian Long-Term Unemployment Conference9 – 10 November 2015.