OpinionProbing regional jobs growthAnthea Bill

admin | 苏州桑拿
13 Mar 2019

JOBS PANEL: Brett Lewis, Ian Richardson, Tony Sansom and Professor Caroline McMillen at the Hunter Economic Breakfast in Newcastle this month.
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The Hunter Research Foundation (HRF) Centre’s latestHunter Region Economic Indicatorstell a positive story of economic recovery in the December 2016 quarter, including a new wave of business and consumer confidence, and the creation of almost 5000 local jobs.

Not only did the rate of jobs growth in the region (1.6 per cent on a three-month moving average) outstrip the State, but our unemployment rate (4.6 per cent) dipped below the NSW rate (5.1 per cent) for the first time in three years.

The latest figures continue a marked recovery in the Hunter’s labour market. From late 2013, with the wind-back in mining investment, Hunter employment fell and unemployment rose. Since March 2015, the Hunter has grown by 11 per cent, more than double the NSW rate (4 per cent) and adding 31,300 jobs. About 60 per cent of the new jobs have been part-time, with more jobs for females over males.

Jobs growth during the upswing was strongest in services, particularly health care and social assistance, professional scientific and technical services, and education and training, all sectors predicted to experience strong jobs growth out to 2020. However, nationally, service sector jobs are increasingly located in capital cities’ CBDs, and attracting and retaining high-productivity service-based firms remains a challenge for the region.

To further probe the Hunter’s jobs growth detail, we asked three leaders to join a panel at the Hunter Economic Breakfast in Newcastle this month.

NSW Department of Industry Office of Regional Development Regional Director Tony Sansom said recent jobs growth in the Hunter was no surprise, given the surge in economic activity in Newcastle.

“The NSW Government is investing in infrastructure, major projects and new industries in the Hunter and will continue to do so,” he said. “We are very collaborative in the Hunter. When industry, government, the University and TAFE all work together, we get some great results.”

Mr Sansom said that the surge in opportunities created by the new Hunter innovation hubs and by incubators like Eighteen04 had helped to retain young people in the region.

Hunter Area Manager for global professional services firm AECOM, Ian Richardson, said that the Hunter’s relative affordability helps to attract skilled workers to the region.

“AECOM focusses on a strong graduate intake to build our team,” he said. “Innovation and collaboration are essential to sustain jobs growth in the Hunter.”

Managing director of The Bloomfield Group Brett Lewis, talked about the effects of the downward pricing of coal on the operations of the Hunter coal industry.

“One of the up-sides has been the need for the industry to look at itself and its processes, which encouraged innovation across everything that we do,” he said. “Innovation is core to the longevity of the coal industry in .”

Mr Lewis saw good prospects for the Hunter’s coal industry and welcomed the recent debate about ’s energy future.

“How much of a part coal plays in the energy mix in the future remains to be seen but we need to have that conversation,” he said. “Our customers in Japan, Taiwan and Korea are still building coal-fired power stations, using new technologies that drastically reduce the negative impacts. They see coal as part of their future energy mix.”

Dr Anthea Bill, Lead Economist, HRF Centre

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