Jobless rate hits 7.1%

THE number of jobseekers in the Bundaberg region has jumped by almost 700 people since September last year, according to government figures released yesterday.

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations release for the September 2009 quarter shows Bundaberg’s unemployment rate has gone up to 7.1% from 5.7% in the past year.

But despite the rise, Bundaberg Region Mayor Lorraine Pyefinch said she breathed a sigh of relief when she saw the figures.

“Obviously it’s not good news that another 692 people are on benefits, but we are really lucky that we have made it through the worst of the global financial crisis with only a 1.5% increase,” Cr Pyefinch said.

“To keep it under 2% is a great achievement and it really reflects the strength of our local economy.”

She said the figures put the Bundaberg region in a good position as the economy started to improve, and encouraged business owners to examine the opportunities on offer.

“It should be seen as a call to action for businesses to take advantage of the subsidies that are now available to take on jobseekers as trainees and apprentices,” Cr Pyefinch said.

Bundaberg Chamber of Commerce president Ron Bishop said Bundaberg’s diverse industry base had protected it from the worst of the financial crisis.

“We are faring well compared to a lot of places across Queensland because we don’t rely on any one industry, such as tourism,” Mr Bishop said.

“People can stop going on vacation, but you can’t stop eating — and everything is produced here.”

Unemployment figures

Bundaberg’s jobless rate has gone up from 6.6% in the June quarter of last year to 7.1% in the September quarter this year. It was 5.7% in September 2008.

Unemployment in the former Kolan Shire hit 9.8% after rising from 7.8% in September 2008.

In the former Isis Shire, it rose from 5.5% to 7.4% in the year to September 2009.

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