Chinchilla in great position to weather unemployment crisis
CHINCHILLA’S community leaders have weighed in on the news that unemployment has risen to the worst levels in 19 years.
The national rate of unemployment is 6.4% and underemployment stands at 13.1%, according to the Bureau of Statistics.
But Chinchilla Community Commerce & Industry president Shannon McDermott said unemployment in the Western Downs likely isn’t as high as in other parts of Australia.
“The Western Downs has had a higher rate of employment than the rest of the nation,” he said.
“We were affected but I don’t think it will be quite as bad as it’s appearing on the national averages.”
While Mr McDermott said COVID-19 has been a major driver of the recession, he believes the slowing of the coal seam gas industry worldwide and the low oil prices also contribute.
“Chinchilla will see more of an effect from the impact of those oil prices.”
But Chinchilla is in a better position due to the lower proportion of retail and hospitality staff, who have been the most affected by job losses.
“For the bulk of the Chinchilla employment as a whole, it’s sort of more focused around the CSG sector,” Mr McDermott said.
“Unfortunately the Chinchilla region has quite a strong reliance on CSG.
“We’d love to see that change and transition over time.”
The other things that’s helped the region is Council’s $50 billion recovery package, according to Mr McDermott.
“It’s going to lessen the blow for what could have been a larger decrease across the region,” he said.
Investor and Western Downs councillor Ian Rasmussen said the unemployment spike is caused by a combination of COVID-19 and other factors, such as droughts and the housing bubble.
”It’s bringing more impacts on us from outside the region,” he said.
“It’s based on the manufacturing industry and of course, on agriculture.”
Mr Rasmussen doesn’t believe the local economy will rebound until at least a couple of years.
“In my opinion it could be five years.
“Locally, I don’t think it will be that long.
“If COVID was brought under control within the country, our local area would be back in 2022.”
One of Mr Rasmussen’s concerns is that residents have turned to online shopping due to the restrictions and will maintain that habit into the future.
“I’m convinced that there will be an effect on local business,” he said.
“They will need to be innovative and attract new customers.”
He said that people that live in regional areas understand the importance of local businesses and will hopefully stay in the habit of supporting them.