Local unemployment plummets

Tom Head from Challenge 21 has more people looking for a job than ever.
Tom Head from Challenge 21 has more people looking for a job than ever. Mike Knott

JUST a month after unemployment figures for the Wide Bay-Burnett region reached a high of 7.9% the figures have plummeted again.

Statistics published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that unemployment has dropped to 6.5% at the end of July, compared with 7.9% at the end of June.

According to the ABS, 121,900 people in the Wide Bay region were unemployed at the end of July this year, compared with 124,000 at the end of June.

But despite the figures looking promising, the reality may not be the same.

“A drop in the number of people unemployed has not been my experience,” Challenge 21 director Tom Head said.

“There are more people registering with us at the moment than we have ever had before.”

Mr Head said the employment market in the region was never stable with many ups and downs.

“But the number of people registering with us has increased ever since the global financial crisis,” he said.

“I would conservatively say we have between 20 and 30 people coming to us each week.”

Mr Head said the rise in the number of people going to see him for work had risen gradually since October 2008.

Mr Head said his firm deals with a wide range of jobs but does not deal with rural work or medical employment.

The employment agent said he had also seen an influx of people new to the region.

“We find a lot of people who have moved to the area in the hope of finding work and there is nothing available here.”

But IPA Personnel Bundaberg branch manager Stuart Bonnett said their company was seeing a different story.

“Bundaberg businesses seem to have been reinvigorated over the past few months,” he said.

“We’ve seen an upturn in the number of clients coming to us with job positions which they are looking to get filled.”

Mr Bonnett said the company worked mostly with businesses to try to find suitable candidates for jobs and did not actively go seeking candidates like other job agencies.

He said that meant he was not able to comment whether there had been an increase in the number of people in Bundaberg seeking work.

“There are more people registering with us at the moment than we have ever had before.”

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