North's jobless rate 'bleak'

Launceston Chamber of Commerce chief executive Maree Tetlow

Launceston Chamber of Commerce chief executive Maree Tetlow

THE latest unemployment rates in the Launceston and North-East regions compare with the South Australian outback as some of the worst in the country.

Labour force statistics for July released nationally yesterday showed the state's jobless figures remained steady at 7.5 per cent, and the number of full-time jobs fell from 152,800 to 152,600 in trend terms.

The total number of Tasmanians employed increased by 100 from 236,400 to 236,500.

But detailed regional data for June paints a bleak picture for the North.

Launceston and the North-East are in the top six highest unemployment rates in the country, out of almost 100 regions. At 9.4 per cent, the North joins the South Australian outback, Geelong and New England in rural New South Wales as some of the worst in the country.

Greater Hobart sits on a jobless rate of 6 per cent, down from 6.3 per cent last month and the North-West Coast rate has increased to 7.1 per cent from 6.5 per cent.

Launceston Chamber of Commerce chief executive Maree Tetlow said she was "quite horrified" by the rate. "I would expect that this worsening unemployment situation for June is a result of job losses at ACL Bearings," she said.

Ms Tetlow said the chamber had raised the issue at a meeting with Premier Will Hodgman late last month and discussed economic development and job opportunities for the North.

"There have been some positive job announcements of expanding a Qantas call centre, new infrastructure projects in the South and a focus on dairy infrastructure in the North-West," Ms Tetlow said.

"We do appreciate that Queenstown is suffering with two mine closures, but the North's situation is hardly rosy at the moment, and we need confidence that some projects will get under way soon."

Ms Tetlow said Mr Hodgman had invited the chamber to write to him so the letter could be tabled at the next meeting of the Joint Economic Development Committee for Tasmania.

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