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Media Release


According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics Labour Force statistics, the official unemployment rates across the Hunter region dropped in November 2021 to be more in line with the NSW state averages. This result was set against another record month of listings in latest National Skills Commission Internet vacancy report which shows job ads across the region have jumped 95% compared with February 2020.

The November monthly unemployment rate decreased in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie from 3.9 percent to 3.6 percent and the balance of the Hunter from 6.4 percent to 3.8 percent with 6,600 people across the region swelling the number of employed persons to over 321,000 still well short of the 341,200 employed at the start of the crisis.

“These results were recorded at a time when COVID restrictions were still in place so the growth in employment is reflective of the strengthening economy evident at the time, said Business Hunter CEO, Bob Hawes.

“Despite the strong employment growth, businesses are still struggling to attract labour and reasons as to why the regional workforce has shrunk and the participation rates remain well below pre-pandemic levels is still troubling.

“The situation in the 15 to 24 year old cohort shows there is considerable room for change. There has been a dramatic fall in the youth unemployment rate from around 14 percent to 3.8 percent in the Hunter Valley and Newcastle and Lake Macquarie are steady however, the participation rates are well below the pre-pandemic  levels and represent around 9,500 persons in the smaller workforce we now witness.

“This is puzzling because we continue to see a trend of record high job vacancy ads across the region and many of these in categories that should appeal to younger workers,” Mr Hawes noted.

The Internet Vacancy data notes job ads for roles like labourers have jumped over 150% compared to pre pandemic levels. We see similar numbers for some retail positions, transport workers, education professionals, IT, health and many other classifications.

Mr Hawes said the numbers show there are simply less people looking for work at a time when businesses are keen to recruit and get back on their feet and participate in the recovery that is elusive for some businesses.

“We continue to hear from local businesses that they are advertising jobs and getting little and, in some cases, no response – it would be frustrating at this time when other business matters are not going their way given the lockdown-like circumstances many sectors are currently experiencing” Mr Hawes said.

“There has been a lot of time to undertake re-training and re-positioning of some workers that were displaced early in the pandemic but we’re not really seeing an oversupply of workers in any sector,” Mr Hawes noted

“It’s possible the school and higher education leavers will swell the ranks into early 2022 but most of these are not in these official figures as during November they would have still been occupied with their studies. It’s evident that other factors influencing the National economy such as low immigration, the lack of international students and an element of the ‘great resignation’ are in play in the Hunter.

We’d like to be saying this region has contributed to the jobs growth being noted across the nation however the Hunter is still trying to get to a ‘jobs recovered’ point before we can understand and plan for a true expansion of the regional workforce.


Bob Hawes
P: 02 9466 4665
M: 0418 496 745


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