Unemployment rates across the Hunter Region continue to fall in the face of record high job vacancy rates. Monthly data provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has seen unemployment in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie decrease from 5.8 to 3.2 per cent and fall marginally across the rest of the Hunter from 3.3 per cent to 3.2 per cent. This compares with the NSW rate of 5.0 per cent.
Using annual average figures in order to smooth out the volatility in the monthly statistics, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie have dropped from 7.9 per cent in March 2021 to 7.2 per cent in May and the rest of the Hunter from 5.9 per cent to 5.6 per cent over the same period.
“Whilst we have seen a lot of volatility in the monthly figures, the trend in the annual average statistics is definitely showing improvement,” Business Hunter CEO Bob Hawes said.
“This is encouraging given we have moved well beyond the end of the JobKeeper wage subsidy in March and this has had minimal impact on the workforce statistics.
“The continuing trend of high youth unemployment is a concern. The annual average youth unemployment rates have been coming down since the start of the year, yet remains at odds with other indicators that suggest there are jobs in the market”
The figures of 14.7 per cent for the Hunter and 17.0 per cent for Newcastle and Lake Macquarie are showing little signs of improvement.
“This compares with the National Skills Commission’s Internet Vacancy for the Hunter Region which is now at record high levels since the series commenced in May 2010. The series was at a record low in May 2020 and we have seen a jump from just 2,133 job vacancies in May 2020 to 5,323 in May 2021, an increase from 65.6 to 163.8 in the index over a twelve month period.
“This is despite a big uptake new apprenticeships and traineeships with the continuation of wage subsidies for new placements and other employment incentives continuing from both the Federal and State Governments.
“The inconsistency in the figures are suggesting we need to have a good hard look at what is constraining improvement in pockets of unemployment like our youth and address those elements specifically, Mr Hawes said.
“It is obviously a multi-dimensional issue including training, skills, ambition and motivation and will demand a specific set of measures to address the situation and we’ll keep providing feedback to government on this basis.”