Businesses in regional Australia could be central to Australia’s economic recovery from coronavirus after a spike in the number of new job listings outside of the capital cities, a new report has shown.
The institute’s chief economist, Dr Kim Houghton, said regional industries in such as agriculture and the resources sector were still driving the national GDP.
Dr Houghton said new figures showed some areas of regional Australia had been flourishing during the pandemic, based on the low numbers of businesses on JobKeeper.
“Rural postcodes such as Moura, Bordertown, Donald, Cressy, Hopetoun and Yenda are all examples of areas that have a very low number of businesses registered for JobKeeper – less than 50 in fact,” Dr Houghton said.
“In contrast, Queensland postcodes of Cairns, Toowoomba, Surfers Paradise and Southport each have over 2400 businesses registered.”
Figures have also shown areas such as Byron Bay, Margaret River, Apollo Bay and the Barossa Valley were also highly reliant on JobKeeper payments, with more than 40 per cent of businesses in those areas receiving the government subsidy.
Rural Bank chief executive Alexandra Gartmann said many regional areas with a high number of businesses receiving JobKeeper were in locations heavily reliant on industries more heavily affected by coronavirus such as tourism.
“The accommodation and food services industry has been the hardest hit, with 83 per cent of our customers reporting significant revenue lost,” she said.
“In contrast, 24 per cent of agriculture, forestry and fishing customers have been similarly affected.
“A challenge for agriculture is now in sourcing labour, which will create new regional employment opportunities.”
The biggest drop in the number of payroll jobs in regional areas were in locations with high historical levels of structural unemployment and areas with large hospitality or tourism industries.
South-east Tasmania had the largest change in the number of payroll jobs between March and May, falling by 10.5 per cent, followed by Warrnambool and south-west Victoria which dropped by more than 9 per cent.
Dr Houghton said JobKeeper had been a lifeline for some of those areas of regional areas.
“Winding it back incrementally and essentially giving regional businesses more time to adapt is greatly appreciated, and is vital for the survival of some,” he said.
“We are really starting to see the divergence in economic performance between regions and now is the time to consider place-based recovery responses which are tailored to each region’s needs.”