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Employment market improves in the lead up to lockdown

According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics Labour Force statistics, the official unemployment rates across the Hunter region dropped slightly in July 2021. This result was against the impacts of the Greater Sydney lockdown that were beginning to be felt across the region from early in the month.

The July monthly unemployment rate decreased in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie from 5.1 percent to 4.5 percent in line with the NSW rates and the balance of the Hunter from 4.2 percent to 3.0 percent with 2,800 people across the region moving off the unemployed list during the month. The overall unemployment rate in NSW fell from 5.1 percent to 4.5 percent.

“This is welcome news, but we need to consider that these statistics do not account for the critical period from early August when the entire region went into lockdown, said Business Hunter CEO, Bob Hawes.

“July also saw a jump in the monthly employment participation rate in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie which underscores the improving trend in the jobs market.

“The participation rate dropped slightly in the Hunter Valley however this was offset by a dramatically improved unemployment rate.

“Overall, our regional job market remains smaller by around 20,000 people since the start of the COVID crisis in early 2020.

“Concerningly, the youth unemployment rates for 15 to 24-year olds also remain stubbornly higher than the overall rates across the region.

“The average annual rate for the Hunter Valley sits at 14 percent and for Newcastle and Lake Macquarie 14.5 percent whilst the monthly figures continue to show volatility but have dropped to 7.9 percent for the Hunter Valley from 16.1 percent in June and 5.7 percent for Lake Macquarie and Newcastle from 9.1 percent.

.“This is puzzling because we can also see a trend of record high job vacancy ads across the region, based on the Internet Vacancy Index for July 2021, with another jump in the index from June,” Mr Hawes explained.

The data released today also indicated that Jobactive clients across the region has increased 38 percent since February 2020.

Mr Hawes said that this indicates plenty of people out there looking for work and, in many cases, are likely to be involved with the retraining and skilling programs on offer to allow them to seek work in sectors where jobs growth was evident.

“We continue to hear from local businesses that they are advertising jobs and getting little and, in some cases, no response – so we’ve been interested to understand what’s happening there,” Mr Hawes said.

“The online vacancies tell us the biggest calls for workers are in roles like general clerks, registered nurses, sales assistants and aged and disabled workers. It’s not easy for an out of work waiter to slide into a role like nursing which clearly requires a level of qualification.

“So, we’re likely to see a gap where ad vacancies and skilled workforces line up in these areas. The job ad vacancies will remain high until the bulge of workers that are undertaking retraining and skilling programs emerge with their qualifications and look for new or changed employment.



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


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