Central Queensland’s diversified economy reduces COVID-19 impacts

In a climate of heightened uncertainty, the latest results released by the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS), together with additional Australian Government data, shows that Central Queensland is weathering the impacts of COVID-19 relatively well in comparison to other parts of the nation.

While interpreting monthly data requires consideration of the longer-term context in order to present accurate information, Capricorn Enterprise is witnessing positive indicators pointing towards solid economic recovery across the region.

Prior to the COVID-19 turbulence ramping up its bumpy ride back in March 2020, unemployment figures in both Livingstone Shire and Rockhampton Regional Councils were on the decline, with February ABS labour force data reflecting unemployment rates as low as 2.9% across the broader region.

While the regional unemployment rate peaked at 9.1% in May 2020, reflective of the pandemic-related restrictions which forced closure of many customer focused industries such as tourism, hospitality and retail, Central Queensland has fortunately seen robust signs of revitalization to date with the July 2020 unemployment rate sitting at 7.1%.

Capricorn Enterprise CEO, Mary Carroll, is grateful for Central Queensland’s diverse and strong economy, which she feels has supported the region’s swift revival. “While we have seen many CQ businesses hit hard by the virus impacts, particularly tourism and hospitality, our region is fortunate to be balanced with a focus on health and education, primary industries, agriculture and mining, and major infrastructure, accounting for almost half of all jobs, which has kept many individuals in essential roles.”

“Additionally, we are seeing the Australian Government’s JobKeeper subsidy keeping workers attached to their employers, and therefore ‘employed’ or looking for employment with the assistance of JobSeeker,” Mary said.

The Australian Government’s Department of Social Services data shows that the distribution of JobSeeker payments peaked during May 2020 (8,932) within the Livingstone and Rockhampton regions, but has seen an 18% decrease in these payments to July (7,323).

While unemployment rates have fared well across the region, the pandemic has also presented opportunities for people to upskill and retrain, with Central Queensland University recording a 52% surge in domestic enrolments for Term 2 – a 12% increase compared with 2019 data.

“The domestic mid-year enrolment increase means that many individuals who may have been out of work and receiving Government subsidy, made the decision to re-educate themselves and perhaps look at a different career direction for the future,” Mary said. “A number of local major project proponents, including Construction Skills Queensland, also provided workshops for those out of work who may have been considering upskilling in the construction industry.”

“While the first half of 2020 has been an incredibly challenging time, we are fortunate that our regional economy in Central Queensland is diverse and stronger than many other destinations,” Mary said.

Impacts of COVID-19: Weekly payroll jobs in Australia

For more information on payroll statistics, click here.

14th March 2020
2nd May 2020
9th May 2020

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