Fair go: Why it is harder to get a job in Gympie

PUT simply: Gympie needs more jobs.

A special ARM Newsdesk study of Department of Employment figures shows why Gympie residents are far more likely to be jobless than someone in Brisbane.

Gympie's unemployment was at 9.7% in December, while the state's capital boasted a healthier 5.2% jobless rate.

That is part of the reason Australian Regional Media and NewsCorp are running the Fair Go for Regional Australia campaign.

This newspaper and ARM's 70 other newspapers want to give locals a voice as the Federal election looms.

Director of the Centre for Labour Market Research Professor Phil Lewis said the metropolitan-regional employment chasm had rarely been effectively managed.

He said the service sector now made up three quarters of Australia's jobs and closing the gap required spreading those jobs outside metropolitan centres.

"Agriculture and mining combined make up less than 4% of employment, and they're the industries we typically see in rural towns," Prof Lewis said.

"Manufacturing has declined - in 30 years it's gone from more than 22% to less than 10% of employment.

"But really, the big growth area has been in soft services - finance, insurance, education and health."

Whether private or public sector, the services industry has a tendency to give regional areas a wide berth.

Prof Lewis held up Armidale, a city of about 24,000 people, as an example of regional planning done well.

"Instead of every little town having the same facilities, you close a lot of them down and concentrate them into a nearby bigger town," he said.

"Then you provide good public transport for people to get there and you make sure children get access to really good schools.

"There is no easy fix but that's something that seems to be working." -ARM NEWSDESK

Why regional Queensland should be focus for employment projects

AN INDEPENDENT study has found regional unemployment to be Queensland's greatest jobs challenge.

The Australia Institute's Jobs Growth in Queensland study revealed the mining downturn stripped 22,000 jobs from the state in the two years to November.

Growth in health and community services, education, professional services and tourism offset the resources slump by creating 130,000 new jobs.

But the jobs boom failed to permeate several areas of regional Queensland.

"Despite progress over the last 12 months in reducing unemployment in several regional areas, unemployment remains stubbornly high in several regions, notably in regional centres along the central and north coast, Ipswich and Outback Queensland," the report said

Outback Queensland has had the lowest employment growth of any region in Australia.

Director of the Centre for Labour Market Research Professor Phil Lewis said regional downturns could drive people away, forcing the closure of schools and banks - often a death knell for smaller towns.

"Even losing something like a post office can have a detrimental effect - they offer services to lots of industries," he said.

Gympie Times


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