Decline on the cards for small towns


(via The Land)

AN ambitious goal of 40,000 new jobs for regional NSW is at the core of the Coalition’s Regional Kick Start plan, but what’s happening behind the headlines?

According to the latest labour force data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) jobs growth in regional NSW has been static for the last three years.

There were 1190 jobs in regional NSW at the start of 2011, the same as the most recent figure recorded in December 2014 but unemployment had increased by 16,000 to 90,000.

Regional growth is now more pressing than ever, with widespread decline predicted by the NSW Department of Planning across much of NSW from 2011 to 2031 (see graphic).

However, NSW Deputy Premier and Nationals leader Troy Grant said despite the negative data from the ABS, the Coalition had actually met its target.

“More than 39,000 jobs have been created outside Sydney since 2011,” he said.

“While employment statistics provide a measure of past economic activity, job vacancies indicate future economic performance.

“The latest job vacancy figures for regional NSW are very encouraging, showing a 6.9 per cent increase in internet job vacancies from November 2013 to November 2014.”

Opposition regional affairs spokesman Mick Veitch said the latest labour force figures disproved the claim.

“The ABS has belled the cat and exposed their broken promise,” he said, “if ever there was a policy whacked together on the back of an envelope it was the Decade of Decentralisation.”

The Land has campaigned for more than a year on the need to boost investment in regional infrastructure, including bridges, roads, freight rail, hospitals and small towns…

Read more by Mike Foley, The Land 12 February 2015