LINING UP: A growing number of Gympie residents are relying on unemployment benefits.
LINING UP: A growing number of Gympie residents are relying on unemployment benefits. Bananastock

Long-term unemployment fears for Gympie

A GROWING number of Gympie residents are relying on unemployment benefits and youth allowance - a trend that could result in more long-term unemployment.

More than 1600 Gympie residents were on Newstart and Youth Allowance in January - an increase of 6.6%, above the Queensland-wide increase of 4.8% from December 2014.

The rise was reflected state-wide - following an increase in Queensland's unemployment rate to the start of 2015.

Newstart is an unemployment benefit paid to people over 22 who meet income and asset tests and are looking for paid work. Youth Allowance is for unemployed 16 to 21-year-olds, full-time students aged between 18 and 24, or 16 to 24-year-olds undertaking a full-time apprenticeship.

Queensland University of Technology senior economics lecturer Dipa Sarkar said the increase was reflective of growing youth unemployment across regional Queensland.

"Youth unemployment is ... much worse in regional Queensland," she said.

"Regional areas are much more dependent on certain sectors to perform - and when they struggle that means less jobs."

When asked if the January rise was related to fewer jobs after Christmas or people signing up to Youth Allowance before the university semester, Dr Sarkar said the rise was in line with the growing unemployment rate.

Dr Sarkar said growing youth unemployment could result in a long-term struggle to get work.

"This could be more long term. When people, especially young people, struggle to get work, it's almost like a black mark," she said.

"If you're not able to find a job then it can be harder and harder to do so."

However, Dr Sarkar expected government schemes would have an impact on youth unemployment in coming years.

At a glance

Area....Number on benefits....% change on December

Gympie...1620...up 6.6%

Bundaberg...3802...up 5.9%

Maryborough...1496...up 6.6%

Hervey Bay...2000...up 4.8%


Social group warns of unemployment impact

GROWING unemployment has a larger cost than just to the government bottom line, a social sector group has warned.

Queensland Council of Social Service chief Mark Henley said growing unemployment was an ongoing issue.

"It is always concerning to see unemployment and the number of youth having to rely on benefits rise," he said.

"Employment is a critical stepping stone to social and economic wellbeing.

"Government, industry and the community sector have a joint role to play in addressing these statistics by working together to create jobs and support people into them."

Mr Henley said the cost of people being out of work had far-reaching effects on society.

"Unemployment, particularly long-term unemployment, has an enormous impact on both individuals, families and their communities," he said.

"The cost is not simply the unemployment benefit but the often associated issues of homelessness, ill health, domestic violence and mental health.

"One approach that has been proven to work is where the investment is directed into flexible employment and skill development programs with specialist case management support.

"In the past these sorts of programs have demonstrated that investment brings strong financial returns to the economy within 12 months and outlays for health, social services and the justice system are reduced."

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