Dole tally on the increase in Rum City
A GROWING number of Bundaberg residents are relying on unemployment benefits and Youth Allowance, a trend that could result in more long-term unemployment.
Department of Social Services figures show 3802 people in the city were on the two forms of benefits in January, up 213 on the December 2014 numbers.
The increase represented a 5.9% change, above the 4.8% Queensland-wide rise in people on benefits.
The rise was reflected statewide, following an increase in Queensland's unemployment rate to the start of 2015.
Newstart is an unemployment benefit paid to people over 22 who meet income and asset tests and are looking for paid work. Youth Allowance is a benefit for unemployed 16 to 21-year-olds, full-time students aged between 18 and 24, or 16 to 24-year-olds undertaking a full-time apprenticeship.
Queensland University of Technology senior economics lecturer Dipa Sarkar said the increase reflected growing youth unemployment across regional Queensland.
"Youth unemployment is suffered much worse in regional Queensland," Dr Sarkar said.
"Regional areas are much more dependent on certain sectors to perform, and when they struggle that means fewer jobs," she said.
When asked if the January rise was related to fewer jobs after Christmas or people signing up to Youth Allowance before the university semester, Dr Sarkar said the rise was in line with growing unemployment.
Dr Sarkar said growing youth unemployment and dependence on welfare could lead to an increase in long-term unemployed.
"This could be more long term than short term," she said.
"When people, especially young people, struggle to get work, it's almost like a black mark against them.
"If you're not able to find a job then it can be harder and harder to do so.
"This can lead to people on these benefits for some time. It can become a spiral."
Dr Sarkar said, however, government initiatives aimed at reducing youth unemployment were working well.
She said she expected recent schemes to have an impact on youth unemployment in coming years.