Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Echuca bucks trend for unemployment

Echuca’s unemployment rate dropped from 6 per cent to 5.3 per cent in the year to September 2013.

ZACH HUBBER February 18, 2014 10:09am

Victoria’s unemployment rate climbed to a 12-year high of 6.4 per cent last week.

But Echuca seems to have bucked the trend.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated the number of Victorians experiencing unemployment had increased by more than 30 per cent during the past two years.

From September 2012 until September 2013, however, Echuca’s unemployment rate fell from 6 per cent to 5.3 per cent.

Rochester and Kyabram unemployment figures also fell for the same period to 3.4 per cent and 5.2 per cent respectively.

Campaspe Shire councillor and economic development and tourism manager Paul Jarman said a strong farming sector was one of the reasons for the strong results.

‘‘The dairy industry and other farming industries are coming into their own again,’’ he said.

‘‘Dairy prices are primarily providing the economic boost, which is creating more employment opportunities.’’

Cr Jarman said strong tourism numbers and private investment were also creating employment.

‘‘Tourism visitation numbers have increased the last 12 months. I’d like to think that provides employment opportunities,’’ he said.

‘‘It appears to me vacancies in the shops in the main CBD areas have gone away, which wasn’t necessarily the case early last year.’’

Despite the district boasting healthier employment figures than the national average of 6 per cent, Cr Jarman said the shire was looking to move forward.

‘‘At the end of the day we’re always looking for more opportunities for our community,’’ he said.

‘‘Even if our figures were better than what they are, Campaspe Shire would never stop making sure the next thing is being looked for.

‘‘While we’re under 5.5 per cent, we aim to make it as low as possible and not change that attitude.’’

Echuca’s recent figures stacked up well against other Victorian rural areas.

Cr Jarman highlighted the district’s multi-faceted economy as the reason.

‘‘Our food processing industry, farming, tourism, health and aged care are all providing,’’ he said.

‘‘Having the hospital upgrade and private nursing homes developed will provide very, very significant employment opportunities for a town like Echuca-Moama.

‘‘Many communities wish they had that opportunity.’’

He said the baby-boomer retiree market was appealing for private investors, while retirees favoured the district’s lifestyle, access to health services and proximity to Melbourne and Bendigo.

Improvements such as gas and electricity connections and the National Broadband Network rollout made Echuca-Moama and Campaspe Shire an attractive long-term investment, Cr Jarman said.

Cr Jarman said the word he had received from businesses had been positive across the summer period.

‘‘The last three months over Christmas has been trading better than in the recent past,’’ he said.

‘‘You would expect over summer, with the tourism high season, that even more employment opportunities are available.’’

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