Gympie’s strong agricultural industry, and the jobs it provides through places like Nolan Meats, is one of the few reasons the region ranked the 29th most COVID job vulnerable town in Australia and not higher. Attribution: Nolan Meats
Gympie’s strong agricultural industry, and the jobs it provides through places like Nolan Meats, is one of the few reasons the region ranked the 29th most COVID job vulnerable town in Australia and not higher. Attribution: Nolan Meats

Why Gympie jobs, economy are dangerously exposed to COVID

COVID’S health risk to Gympie is clear as day, but it turns out the region is at serious risk of suffering significant economic damage from the virus.

Gympie has been identified as having one of the country’s 30 most vulnerable job profiles in a new report from demographics experts in The Australian.

Demographics Group and director of research, Simone Kuestenmacher, said only six of Australia’s 19 industries had created new jobs since February: utilities, agriculture, public admin, finance, real estate, and wholesale trade.

Only 15 per cent of Gympie’s jobs fell in the six industries experiencing growth since COVID-19 struck.
Only 15 per cent of Gympie’s jobs fell in the six industries experiencing growth since COVID-19 struck.

Only 15 per cent of all Gympie jobs belong to these industries.

The Australian average is 19 per cent.

In comparison, Canberra – Queanbeyan had the country’s most resilient job profile with 35.6 per cent of its employment tucked away in these spots.

This was followed by Darwin at 27 per cent, and Alice Springs at 23.9 per cent.

Collectively, Mr Kuestenmacher said in the article, the six industries added 100,000 jobs to the country’s employment pool.

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Unfortunately, this did not offset the 922,000 jobs lost in the other 13 industries since February.

And among the country’s 100 largest settlements, towns with public service and military jobs fared the best.

Simon Kuestenmacher.
Simon Kuestenmacher.

“In times of economic downturns government jobs are the safest of all,” Mr Kuestenmacher said.

Gympie business leaders, including Chamber of Commerce president Tony Goodman, have publicly called for State and Federal Governments to decentralise their workforce into regional towns like Gympie to help drive local economies.

Gympie was one of nine Queensland towns to make the list of Australia’s 30 least resilient areas.

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It was joined by Mount Isa (11.9 per cent), Gladstone – Tannum Sands (12.4 per cent), Hervey Bay, Gold Coast – Tweed Heads (13.4 per cent), Sunshine Coast (13.8 per cent), Mackay (14 per cent), Warwick (14.4 per cent) and Maryborough (15.1 per cent).

The region’s agricultural strength was one of the reasons its vulnerability was not worse.
The region’s agricultural strength was one of the reasons its vulnerability was not worse.

Only three Queensland towns made it on to the list of the 30 most resilient: Townsville (21.6 per cent), Toowoomba (18.3 per cent) and Bundaberg (18.2 per cent).

Gympie’s situation was not entirely bleak, though.

Mr Kuestenmacher said “traditional regional strengths of agriculture and manufacturing will be strengthened in post-COVID Australia”.

Infrastructure investment would also be a driving force in the future as an easy way to create jobs.

And while this “regional revival” might so far be only an intellectual argument, he said, some of the figures rolling through were pointing towards it as on the verge of reality.

“So far, the data agrees with the intellectual argument that Australia’s small towns will be the big winners of the COVID lockdown,” he said.

Gympie Times


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