Geoff Helisma | Figures for the 2018 March quarter in the latest Small Area Labour Markets report reveal little change in unemployment rates for the Clarence valley local government area (LGA). The Australian Department of Jobs and Small Business data table for the “smoothed unemployment rate” measures unemployment in the LGA at 10 per cent, compared to the December 2017 quarter’s 10.1 per cent. Meanwhile, areas surrounding the Clarence Valley have had similar results (note: the December 2017 percentages are in brackets): the Richmond Valley LGA’s rate is 6.6 per cent (6.2); Coffs Harbour’s remained at 7.8 per cent; Lismore’s is 5.6 per cent (5.4); and, Ballina’s is 3.4 per cent (3.3). During the March quarter, however, the number of employed people in the Clarence Valley LGA rose from 21,384 to 22,171. Each of the adjoining LGA’s experienced similar improvements in labour force numbers. Unemployment in the Clarence Valley LGA has steadily trended up from a low of 5.7 per cent (smoothed figures) in the July and September quarters of 2016: December 2016, 6.35 per cent; March 2017, 7.3 per cent; June 2017, 8.9 per cent; September 2017, 9.7 per cent; December 2017, 10.1 per cent, and, March 2017, 10.0 percent. Meanwhile, the latest data available by region, which measures the Coffs Harbour-Grafton region, shows unemployment at 8.5 per cent, down 0.1 per cent from the previous quarter. However, the region’s youth unemployment rate is 22.5 per cent, despite the region having a 5.9 per cent annual employment growth, compared to the NSW average of 3.2 per cent.