A growing Latrobe Valley

The Latrobe Valley population is projected to reach 85,000 by the year 2031, a Latrobe City Council report has revealed.

Using Australian Bureau of Statistics data and State Government projections, the Economics and Population Indicators 2014 document predicts a jump in population from 73,846 in 2013 to 85,299 in 2031.

Latrobe’s economy at a glance:

In 2013 the Latrobe Valley’s total economic output was $7 billion.

However, the document also revealed a jump in unemployment to 7.5 per cent in March 2014, above the average unemployment in other regional Victorian cities.

Morwell has the highest level of unemployment at 12.9 per cent in June 2014, followed by Moe-Newborough at 10.5 per cent, Churchill at 5.3 per cent and Traralgon on five per cent.

Deputy Mayor Peter Gibbons said the issue of job creation was a “critical target” for council.

“It is a positive report in what you can see, but of course one of the highlights is there is a lack of employment opportunities in the area, particularly for young people and older persons,” Cr Gibbons said.

The healthcare and social assistance sector provides the most Latrobe Valley jobs, with more than 4000 in 2011, followed by the retail trade sectors providing 3299 jobs.

The report showed the fastest growing industries for jobs were healthcare and public administration, while the number of jobs in financial and insurance services had declined by 562 between 2006 and 2011 and those in the utilities including electricity had dropped by 470 in that time.

Latrobe City is more affordable to live in than other major regional cities, with the median house price around $215,000 and median rent for a three-bedroom house about $230 per week, the report found.

The average personal income in Latrobe is $51,498 per annum before tax, one of the highest levels in regional Victoria and local households are experiencing less housing cost stress compared to Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong, according to 2011 ABS statistics contained in the report.

“While it’s positive, there is a negative side because by the market price it states quite clearly we’re not creating enough jobs, so we’ve got to look much more seriously at how we generate more employment,” Cr Gibbons said.

Over the next decade land for 10,000 housing lots and three industrial estates is expected to be released.

“Development lots for new houses are not going to be utilised to the degree the developers would like to see, unless, again, we get a lot more employment growth.

“We are setting up an initiative to look at this issue very closely.”

From 2013 to 2014 housing prices increased in Moe and Churchill, but declined in Morwell and Traralgon.

Residential sales across the Valley increased slightly in 2013 to 1563.

The value of all building approvals reached $136 million in 2013/14 during which a total of 346 dwellings were constructed, representing a recovery in the local construction industry.

“Council has streamlined its planning application process, and that seems to have generated a far more active sector than we’ve had here for some decades,” Cr Gibbons said.

The report also projected the number of residents over 75 years old was likely to double over the next two decades.

Lone-person households account for the greatest proportion (28 per cent) of household types in Latrobe City, according to the report.

Electricity, gas, water and waste contribute the most to Latrobe’s gross regional product with $452 million in 2013.

From 2006 to 2011 the proportion of residents who completed year 12 increased from 29.2 per cent to 34.2 per cent.

The full report can be downloaded from the business and investment section of council’s website www.latrobe.vic.gov.au