Revealed: nation’s 20 youth unemployment hotspots in 2018

26 March 2018

More than one-third of all unemployed people in Australia are aged 15-24, according to a new report mapping the 20 worst "hotspot" regions for youth unemployment in 2018. The data analysis finds 55 of the total of 87 regions in Australia are burdened by youth unemployment rates above 11 per cent. This stands in contrasts to the overall national unemployment rate of 5.5 per cent, which includes all age groups.

Striking locational differences have emerged. In five regions – all outside capital cities – youth unemployment among 15 to 24-year-olds in the labour force surpassed 20 per cent. "The story of youth employment in our prosperous country has become a tale of two Australias," warns the report by the national anti-poverty group the Brotherhood of St Laurence, (BSL).

The report analyses Australian Bureau of Statistics data to find youth unemployment is at its extreme – more than 65 per cent – in a thinly populated but vast tract of land in the Queensland outback, encompassing Cape York as well as the mining centres of Mount Isa and Weipa.

BSL's Executive Director, Conny Lenneberg, said the new report exposed how the location was shaping opportunities for young Australians. "In our prosperous country, it’s very worrying when we have more than a quarter of a million young people in the labour force who are unemployed. Youth unemployment hotspots in outer suburbs and rural areas are carrying the heaviest burden," she said."The modern economy is creating new risks for Australia’s emerging generation.

Disadvantaged young people in particular are facing barriers in their effort to secure work. To meet this challenge, we need action from governments as well tapping into effort of employers in local communities. Stubborn rates of youth unemployment are not just a concern for families or the welfare sector."

20 worst hotspots named

BSL's report, titled 'An unfair Australia? Mapping youth unemployment hotspots', identifies the 20 hotspots that have the highest youth unemployment rates in Australia from ABS data:

  • 67.1 per cent in the Queensland-Outback region, including Cape York, Weipa, Mount Isa, Longreach
  • 28.9 per cent in the Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven region of NSW, including Nowra, Mittagong, Ulladulla
  • 27.7 per cent in the Wide Bay region of Queensland, including Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Maryborough
  • 21.8 per cent in the Tasmania-South East region, including Bruny Island, Southern Midlands, Derwent Valley
  • 21.5 per cent in the Murray region of NSW, including Albury, Tocumwal, Jerilderie, Deniliquin
  • 19.8 per cent in the Coffs Harbour-Grafton region of NSW, also including Bellingen, Dorrigo
  • 18.7 per cent in the Melbourne-West region, including Sunshine, St Albans, Footscray, Melton
  • 18.6 per cent in the Central Coast NSW region, including Gosford, Woy Woy, Wyong, The Entrance
  • 18.4 per cent in the Adelaide-North region, including Elizabeth, Salisbury, Parafield, Gawler
  • 18.1 per cent in the Townsville region in Queensland, also including Ayr, Charters Towers, Ingham
  • 17.7 per cent in the Mandurah, WA, region, including Pinjarra
  • 17.5 per cent in the Melbourne-North West region, including Keilor, Sunbury, Broadmeadows, Craigieburn
  • 17.0 per cent in the Adelaide-West region, including Port Adelaide, Fulham, Henley Beach, Plympton
  • 17.0 per cent in the Logan-Beaudesert region in Queensland, also including Beenleigh, Springwood
  • 16.9 per cent in the Adelaide-South region, including Brighton, Mitcham, Morphett Vale, Glenelg
  • 16.6 per cent in the New England-North West region of NSW, including Armidale, Moree, Tamworth
  • 16.3 per cent in the South Australia-South East region, including Victor Harbour, Mount Gambier
  • 16.2 per cent in the Bendigo region of Victoria, also including Castlemaine, Kyneton, Heathcote
  • 16.1 per cent in the Shepparton region of Victoria, also including Cobram, Yarrawonga, Echuca
  • 16.0 per cent in the Perth-North West region, including Joondalup, Stirling, Wanneroo, Scarborough

In these regions, higher-than-average youth unemployment rates have stubbornly persisted over time. In 19 of the 20 current hotspots youth unemployment rates had worsened from two years ago, the report finds. The report also found stark regional differences at the state level, showing that economic conditions are not uniform across states. The national youth unemployment rate remains more than 12 per cent.

Laurie Oakes joins the Brotherhood’s campaign for youth employment

In a guest column written for the BSL's Youth Unemployment Monitor out today, leading journalist Laurie Oakes said that the youth unemployment rate was more than double the overall rate "should be a matter of enormous concern".

More weight should also be given to the future wellbeing of young Australians in all debates about spending on their elders, he argues.

"Things are already much tougher for the emerging generation – the generation that includes my grandchildren – even at the basic level of finding a productive place within society."

Read the report ‘An unfair Australia? Mapping youth unemployment hotspots’

Read Laurie Oakes’ column View the worst hotspots in each state