Gympie businesses that grew and shrank during COVID
Local job losses during the pandemic were revealed to the Gympie Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting by Wide Bay Burnett regional development director Scott Rowe on Wednesday.
More than 750 jobs have fallen victim to COVID in the Gympie region, which has suffered a gross regional product decline of 1% - compared to the Queensland GRP decline of more than 3% though, the Gympie region has fared comparatively well, Mr Rowe pointed out.
The biggest local job losses have occurred, unsurprisingly, in the accommodation and food services sector, which lost 345 jobs during COVID, followed by the manufacturing sector, which lost 215 jobs, and construction, which lost 192 jobs.
The average Gympie region resident is older, poorer, less educated and less employed than the average Queenslander.
The average age here is 46, compared to Queensland’s average of 37, the median weekly household income is $936, compared to the Queensland average of $1392, 48% of our population is in the labour force, compared to 61% across Queensland, and only 6% of our population has a university qualification, compared to 16% across Queensland.
In 2019, the population of the region was 52,446.
Mr Rowe said the industries that had weathered the COVID storm best were healthcare and social assistance, up 17.6% since COVID, followed by education and training which was up 15.3%, and public administration and safety, up 15.2%.
The industries most adversely affected were accommodation and food services, down 40%, arts and recreation, down 30%, mining, down 10% and construction, down more than 6%.
These figures are reflected in the job losses.
Gympie’s most recent unemployment figure was 9.2%; better than the Wide Burnett, Bundaberg, South Burnett and Fraser Coast, but worse than the North Burnett, which is down to 6.2%. Youth unemployment across the Wide Bay Burnett (which includes Gympie) is a shocking 27.7%.
Looking to the future, Mr Rowe identified these opportunities based on Gympie’s points of difference:
1. Grow and support your own
2. $1 billion Bruce Highway upgrade leverage
3. Advanced manufacturing hubs and co-location
4. Leverage boutique tourism opportunities
5. Hard to locate industries and growth attraction
6. Specialised health care services (aged care hub)
7. Diversify liveability and housing offerings (develop larger residential housing blocks to provide option for families boxed in on Sunshine Coast and Brisbane).
More to come.