WHILE the Latrobe Valley contends with mass public sector job cuts as part of the State Government’s ‘Sustainable Government’ initiative, figures just released show the jobless rate rose in each of our main towns in the June 2012 quarter.
The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations ‘Small Area Labour Markets’ figures showed Moe took the biggest hit in the June quarter, with its unemployment rate climbing 0.5 per cent to 8.0 per cent while Morwell’s jumped from 8.4 per cent to 8.6 per cent and Traralgon’s increased from 4.3 to 4.4 per cent.
The statistics reflect a continued increase in the jobless rate of all three towns over the past three quarters, though Traralgon’s rate remains significantly below the Victorian state average of 5.4 per cent.
Morwell and Moe continue to battle some of the highest unemployment rates in Victoria, comparing with areas such as Corio in Geelong, parts of Shepparton, Maryborough and Frankston.
Despite a notable rise in the number of people out of work in the Valley since the December quarter last year, the most recent figures are still lower than those recorded for Morwell and Traralgon in the June quarter last year, when Morwell’s unemployment rate hit 9.6 per cent and Traralgon’s was 4.7 per cent.
For Moe, however, the trend has risen progressively from 7.6 per cent in June last year.
Latrobe’s figures compare poorly with most of its neighbours, with Baw Baw recording jobless rates of between four and five percent while Wellington’s figures were between 3.3 and 5.2 per cent.
Monash University lecturer Dr Olga Bursian, a keen observer of this region’s labour market changes, said the Valley was still “struggling to recover” from the privatisation of the SECV in the 1990s and political leaders failed to “allocate the resources and attention needed to compensate for distance, fuel costs and lack of basic amenities” to country areas.
Dr Bursian said regions with high unemployment also ranked higher on “measures of poverty, social disadvantage and poor health” and warned this area currently faced “an alarming increase in rates of homelessness amongst families with children”.
She said governments needed to provide seed funding to innovative manufacturing, agricultural and other enterprises as “a matter of core business”, in line with the industry policies of other countries.
Dr Bursian also said funding needed to be increased to, not cut from, TAFEs, apprenticeships and Vocational Education Training in schools.
She called for an investment boost to public transport to give unemployed people “the means of reaching job or training opportunities”.
“Affordable amenities for young people, giving them entry into stable and life-long occupational pathways is the most effective strategy in reducing long-term unemployment,” she said.