FULL LIST: Qld’s jobless hot spots among worst in Australia
Queensland has added almost 89,000 JobSeeker recipients in the past five years and regional areas dominate the state's worst-affected towns and suburbs.
Cairns, Toowoomba and Bundaberg all sit in the nation's top 10 JobSeeker postcodes, according to data from the Department of Social Services.
The state's growth in unemployment benefit recipients - from 173,941 to 262,759 between March 2016 and March 2021 - was 51 per cent, just below the 52 per cent national rise. New South Wales and Western Australia rose 58 per cent, Victoria climbed 54 per cent and both South Australia and Tasmania 33 per cent.
A majority of the nation's biggest JobSeeker postcodes are in outer suburbs or towns plagued by social disadvantage.
The Demographic Group executive director Bernard Salt said the pandemic filtered out people who "have fallen through the cracks".
"Social disadvantage does not change quickly in Australia," he said.
"When you look at the profile of the workforce in those areas it's dominated by unskilled workers, often young, often immigrants, and people trying to get their first job."
Queensland is the only state where postcodes outside its capital city have the highest numbers of JobSeeker recipients, with the state's top 10 also including Hervey Bay, Southport, Ipswich, Caboolture and Mackay.
"Brisbane does not dominate Queensland the way in which Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth dominate their respective state," Mr Salt said.
CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman said Cairns alone lost 7600 jobs in the past 12 months.
"They have been hit very hard by the pandemic," he said.
The number of people on JobSeeker, previously called Newstart Allowance, was dropping for four years before the pandemic, then quickly jumped by 700,000 by mid-2020.
And while the national economy is already bigger than it was in early 2020, JobSeeker numbers are not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels before 2022.
However, the outlook is improving, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg revealing this week that more than 150,000 people have come off JobSeeker since JobKeeper ended in March.
Mr Felsman said JobSeeker numbers peaked at 1.45 million in August last year and had dropped to 1.06 million by April.
"That is a promising, encouraging development," he said.
Mr Felsman said new data was also showing job vacancies at 12-year highs.
"The forward-looking indicators are very positive at the moment, but emerging skills shortages are a concern, with not enough trades and a lack of international backpackers and students," he said.
"Structurally, long-term unemployed people may not be able to fill the advertised roles because of skills mismatches."
Mr Salt said Covid had sped up Australia's transition towards a more skilled workforce.
"The best outcome is that the economy recovers, lockdowns cease and we start investing in developing local capabilities in manufacturing and skilling up domestic workers," he said.
"In some respects we can correct a lot of things that were probably exposing us."
Originally published as FULL LIST: Queensland's jobless hot spots among worst in Australia