Rockhampton Regional Development chief executive Gary Kerr.
Rockhampton Regional Development chief executive Gary Kerr. File

Rocky new unemployment hotspot

A RISE in Rockhampton’s jobless total – to 7% compared with a national average of 5.3% – is no cause for alarm, says Gary Kerr.

The chief executive of Rockhampton Regional Development says the city’s prospects remain rosy despite a sizeable jump in unemployment during the year to the end of September 2009.

Rockhampton is revealed in the Federal Government’s latest breakdown of labour markets as one of Queensland’s unemployment hotspots – evidence that the city did not emerge from the global downturn entirely unscathed. There were 2426 people on the official unemployment register in Rockhampton at the end of the quarter.

But Mr Kerr said business confidence in the region was sky high and he was sure the city would have to bring in workers, from Queensland, interstate and abroad, to keep pace with demand in the next five years.

“My experience in the past is that regional centres like Rockhampton have a higher rate of unemployment because they have affordable accommodation and support services for people who are out of work.

“When people are looking for work they tend to come to the city from outlying areas where jobs are scarce and that might be one reason for the increase,” he said.

“Our research is that businesses here are resilient and are taking staff on. There is certainly no need to panic because the economy is moving in the right direction and I expect the next quarterly figures to show a reduction in unemployment.”

Mr Kerr said RRD’s business confidence survey in November showed 93% of companies expected to retain or increase their business in the coming year.

“The truth is that we are still suffering specific skills shortages in engineering, planning, health professionals and education and there is evidence there are developing shortages in some of the trades – metalwork, mechanics and electrics.”

He said conservative estimates were predicting 25,000 new jobs in Central Queensland over the next five years and although many of them would be at industrial projects in Gladstone and new mines in the Bowen Basin, there would be significant demand to grow the workforce in Rockhampton as a result. A year ago Rockhampton’s unemployment stood at 6%.

The new figures reveal a very low rate of unemployment in many CQ communities, but spikes in places like Woorabinda where 42.5% of the labour force has no work.

Is Rockhampton is an unemployment hotspot? Leave your comments below ...

Unemployment ...

Number of unemployed and unemployment rate

  • Banana; 306; 3.4%
  • Barcaldine 26 2.6%
  • Bundaberg 1650 7.1%
  • Calliope 405 4.7%
  • Emerald 237 2.4%
  • Fitzroy 144 4%
  • Gladstone 882 4.7%
  • Livingstone 810 5.8%
  • Mackay 1773 3.9%
  • Mirani 101 3.3%
  • Mt Morgan 249 22.4%
  • Rockhampton 2426 7%
  • Woorabinda 142 42.5%

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