OUR families are falling further behind the rest of Australia, with the Wide Bay now having the highest jobless rate and the lowest average disposable income in the country.
The National Institute of Economic and Industry Research 2014-15 State of the Regions Report shows unemployment across the Wide Bay Burnett was the worst in Australia at 16.3% overall - but our young are suffering the most with 28.3% of 20 to 24-year-olds neither studying nor working.
It's not just youths who are struggling - the report related the Wide Bay's high unemployment rate to the wave of early retirees arriving in hope of finding work, but failing to get a job.
The rate of long-term unemployed in the region sits at 2.7% compared to 1.6% nationally.
The NIEIR unemployment rate is calculated by adjusting the headline unemployment rate for excess take-up of disability pension.
The region has more than twice the nation's average number of disability support pensioners, 6.32% compared to 3.23%.
Average disposable income in our region was at $33,300 per year, compared to $40,000 nationally - and less than half that of ACT residents, which were the most cashed-up in the country with an average $68,000 disposable income.
Compared with other regions, how hard have you found it to get work in Bundaberg?
This poll ended on 21 June 2014.
It's very hard - 62%
It can be a bit tough but you have to keep trying - 16%
Not too bad - 13%
Not hard at all, there are lots of jobs if you look - 7%
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Our ageing population and welfare dependence means we have the country's fourth-lowest wage per resident.
The annual report highlighted the chasm between the regions which have benefited from the Australian mining boom, and those which have been left behind.
"The mining boom has raised the pace of development in regions with large deposits of iron ore, coal and gas and has consolidated the position of the regions with high education, high social status and inherited wealth," the report said.
"However, it has disadvantaged regions dependent on industries depressed due to the over-valued exchange rate and has bypassed the retirement regions, which despite their attractive seascapes have maintained their established status as zones of limited economic opportunity."
But it's not all bad news.
The Wide Bay Burnett was listed as one of the country's main regions to experience growth in hospitality which the report attributed to a push by local government and businesses to chase the tourism dollar.
It was also one of five regions in which the health sector reported the largest increase in employment.
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