Is Rocky recession-proof?

IN a time of high unemployment rates, Steve Richardson is a classic example of why Rockhampton is bucking the trend.

He picked up an auto-electrical job at Hastings Deering in Rockhampton six weeks ago.

While Queensland has one of the worst unemployment rates in the country, the mining boom has kept Rockhampton virtually recession free.

August unemployment figures released by Australian Development Strategies 2009 (see factbox) revealed that the Rockhampton Regional Council area had an unemployment rate of 3.29%, one of the lowest across the state.

Meanwhile, the Central Highlands Regional Council district is almost job-loss-free with the best rate across the state at 0.03%.

Steve sold his construction machinery business and moved back to Central Queensland for his new job along with the relaxing lifestyle.

The 46-year-old lived on the Gold Coast for 10 years after making the move from the Capricorn Coast where he worked as an auto electrician for 20 years.

“I came up for a fishing competition about seven weeks ago, had the interview and they said 'get up here you've got the job',” Steve said.

Steve now has the best of both worlds.

“I am working for a good company and I can go fishing more often,” he said.

Hastings Deering HR administrator Taleah Woolley said they hadn't felt the economic pinch. There are currently 45 positions available and 15 new apprentices starting in January.

“Since January this year we have put on 62 new employees and there have been no redundancies during the global financial crisis,” Ms Woolley said.

Ms Woolley yesterday said they would keep hiring to meet the growing demand.

She said Rocky's low unemployment rate came as no surprise to her.

“We haven't stopped putting workers on and there is still plenty of work both here and on-site at the mines.”

UNEMPLOYMENT FIGURES • Rocky district: 3.29 • Central Highlands: 0.03 • Brisbane City: 4.09 • Cairns Regional: 8.63 • Mackay Regional: 2.90 • Isaac Regional: 4.37 • Townsville City: 4.66


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