Youth unemployment 'hotspots' across the nation mapped - rural and regional areas under most pressure

14 March 2016

A new snapshot has mapped unemployment 'hotspots' for those aged 15 to 24 across Australia – with some regions grappling with rates above 20 per cent.


A new snapshot has mapped unemployment 'hotspots' for those aged 15 to 24 across Australia – with some regions grappling with rates above 20 per cent.

The national youth unemployment rate at over 12 per cent remains double the rate of overall unemployment, according to analysis of ABS data by anti-poverty organisation the Brotherhood of St Laurence. The picture is worse in youth unemployment hotspots across the country, particularly in regional, rural and outer suburban areas.

Brotherhood Executive Director Tony Nicholson said: 'As a nation, we owe our young people a much better deal.'

The Australian Bureau of Statistics data analysed by the anti-poverty organisation lists the 20 worst performing areas nationally for youth unemployment over the year to January 2016. They are:

  • 28.4 per cent in Outback Queensland, including Cape York, Aurukun, Weipa, Mount Isa, Longreach, Charleville
  • 21.8 per cent in the Hunter Valley region of NSW, excluding Newcastle
  • 20.6 per cent in the Wide Bay region of Queensland, including Bundaberg, Gympie, Hervey Bay, Maryborough
  • 20.5 per cent in the Cairns region of Queensland, also including Innisfail and Port Douglas
  • 19.6 per cent in the South East region of Tasmania, including Central Highlands, Derwent Valley, Bruny Island
  • 19.5 per cent in the Mid North Coast region of NSW, including Kempsey, Port Macquarie, Taree
  • 19.4 per cent in the Barossa-Yorke-Mid North region of SA, including Tanunda, Clare, Jamestown, Port Pirie
  • 18.4 per cent in the Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven region of NSW, including Nowra, Mittagong, Ulladulla
  • 18.1 per cent in the New England and North West region of NSW, including Armidale, Inverell, Moree, Tamworth
  • 17.6 per cent in the Townsville region of Queensland, including Charters Towers, Ingham, Ayr
  • 17.4 per cent in the Richmond-Tweed region of NSW, including Tweed Heads, Byron Bay, Lismore, Mullumbimby
  • 17.3 per cent in the Melbourne West region of Victoria, including Footscray, Laverton Werribee, Sunshine, Melton
  • 16.9 per cent in the Geelong region of Victoria, including Winchelsea, Queenscliff, Lorne, Torquay
  • 16.9 per cent in the Launceston and North East region of Tasmania, including Northern Midlands, Flinders Island
  • 16.5 per cent in the Central Coast region of NSW, including Woy Woy, Wyong, Gosford
  • 16.3 per cent in the Adelaide-North region of SA, including Gawler, Elizabeth, Salisbury
  • 16.2 per cent in the Adelaide-Central and Hills region of SA, including Paradise, Woodside, Mount Barker, Hahndorf
  • 16.0 per cent in the Far West and Orana region of NSW, including Bourke, Cobar, Broken Hill, Dubbo, Lightning Ridge
  • 16.0 per cent in the Hume region of Victoria, including the Goulburn Valley, Wodonga, Wangaratta
  • 16.0 per cent in the Mackay region of Queensland, including Bowen, Airlie Beach, Whitsunday Islands, Proserpine

Young people continue to be at higher risk of unemployment than other age groups. The 12.2 per cent unemployment rate for 15-24 year olds was more than 2½ times the rate among adults aged 25 and older (4.6 per cent).

While the national youth rate is down from a high of almost 14 per cent in December 2014, it still well up on the level before the global financial crisis in 2008, when it dipped below 9 per cent.

The Brotherhood’s Mr Nicholson said: 'The recent improvement in the youth unemployment rate masks the reality that it is still more than the rate before the GFC. Rural and regional areas are doing it particularly tough.

'It’s deeply concerning that some 258,000 young people in the labour market are unable to find work. In ‘hot spots’ the job search is much harder for them.

'Digging into the data, we finds some regions bearing a much heavier burden than others. Our globalised economy makes it hard for young people to find entry level jobs, and this puts them at risk of being locked out of stable employment long term.

'This generational issue needs sustained attention on all fronts: schools, vocational training and universities as well as welfare assistance and employment programs.' 

Read: Australia’s Youth Unemployment Hotspots report

View: 'Working hard for her chance' video: despite many applications, Shanna, 21, has only secured two short-term jobs since finishing school in 2012

Media enquiries: Jeannie Zakharov on 0428 391 117



The Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) acknowledges and understands its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and recognises that all children and young people have the right to be treated with respect and care, and to be safe from all forms of abuse. BSL has a zero tolerance towards child abuse.
Read the official statement signed by the Executive Director.

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