Positive signs show Gympie region economy on rise
THE Gympie economy has a long way to go, but things are at least starting to head in the right direction, economist Robert Alexander said.
He was commenting on a Lawrence Consulting report on the Gympie region economy, published on the Gympie Regional Council website.
Dr Alexander told The Gympie Times yesterday the region was showing signs of emerging from a seriously depressed recent past.
The unemployment rate for the September quarter last year, 8.2%, showed an economy on the improve, after a March quarter figure of 8.5%.
The University of the Sunshine Coast academic said jobs growth was "quite amazing really,” picking up by 1611.
"It's a big change, given you only have about 19,000 people working in Gympie.
"Unemployment is still quite high but it has come back considerably, according to graphs in the report.
"Gympie had a very bad 2015,” he said.
"Unemployment is still higher than you would want, but it is improving very quickly.
"It has always been worse than the Queensland and Australian averages, but not always by as much as lately.”
The report shows that in March quarter 2011, Gympie had an unemployment rate of 6.4%. compared to 5.5% for Queensland and 5.1% for Australia.
"By September 2013, it was 8.4% in Gympie, compared to 5.9% for Queensland and 5.5% for Australia.
"But in 2015, it ranged from 10.3% to 10.6%, compared to around 6.5% for Queensland and 6.1% for Australia.
"Last year it was 8.5% for Gympie region, compared to 6.2% for Queensland and %6 for Austrralia.
"Considering your unemployment has always been worse than the state and national average, things are now looking a lot better than they were in 2015 and the graphs look to be headed in the right direction.
"Building activity is up, particularly in the non-residential sector.
"What that means is hard to say.
"It could be that farmers are building a lot of sheds, or it could be manufacturing investment.
"You would have to check with the local authority to see what they are approving to know exactly what that means.
But non-residential development seems to be up 214%, which is very strong and could be a good sign for future employment.”
However, he warned that smaller regions like Gympie had thin figures, meaning they could be showing misleadingly large changes.