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Improvement in regional employment.

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The Hon. Peter Reith, MP

Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business 

Leader of the House of Representatives

Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600

31 January 2000



The employment outlook in regio nal Australia has improved over the past 12 months together with a fall in unemployment, according to the quarterly Australian Regional Labour Market report released today.

Prepared by the Department of Employment Workplace Relations and Small Business the December quarter report reveals that employment rose in approximately 68 percent of metropolitan and 74 percent of the non-metropolitan regions across the country.

The average unemployment rate in metropolitan Australia was 6.1 percent compared with 6.9 percent in the December quarter 1998 while in non-metropolitan areas a fall of 0.6 percent from 8.3 percent to 7.7 percent was recorded.

All States and Territories except the Northern Territory recorded a rise in employment while only Queensland and the Northern Territory recorded an increase in unemployment, albeit marginal.

All State capital cities, except Hobart, recorded significant increases in employment.

Non-metropolitan regions, which recorded large increases in employment included Newcastle (up by 20,200), Goulburn-Ovens-Murray (up by 17,900) and Richmond-Tweed/Mid North Coast (up by 16,600).

Many parts of regional Australia have also experienced falls over the last 12 months. In fact the largest falls in the unemployment rate were mainly in non-metropolitan areas. For example, the unemployment rate fell in Wollongong (down by 4.0 percentage points to 6.4 per cent), Northern Tasmania (down by 3.4 percentage points to 7.9 per cent) and Goulburn-Ovens-Murray (down by 3.3 percentage points to 4.7 per cent).

In the December quarter 1999, there were six regions with an unemployment rate of 10.0 per cent or greater, 4 of which were in non-metropolitan areas. This compares with 15 regions with unemployment rates of 10.0 per cent or over 12 months ago, with eight of those regions being in non-metropolitan areas.

These trends indicate that the Government’s reform agenda is paying dividends. But there is no room for complacency in tackling the issue of employment and unemployment.

While employment levels are recovering in some regions it is clear that there are still pockets where the benefits of the changes made to the Australian economy are not being felt.

Changes to the unfair dismissal regime and further workplace relations reform at a company level as well as at a policy level could have a beneficial impact on these regions.

Regional areas will also receive a boost from Job Network 2, as the number of sites will nearly double from 600 to 1100 giving greater assistance to the unemployed at a community level.

For further information contact: Ian Hanke on 0419 484 095



jy  2000-02-01  10:51