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Unemployment rate falls below national average

The unemployment rate in the Coffs Harbour-Grafton region has fallen to 5.5% – 0.7 percentage points behind the national average. It’s a statistic Clarence Valley mayor Richie Williamson described as sensational news for the Clarence Valley. The Labour Market Information Portal ( described the region as having a working age population of 88,100 with an unemployment rate of 5.5% and youth unemployment (15-24) of 8.4%.  Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for September showed a national unemployment rate of 6.2%. “This is great news,” Cr Williamson said. “I don’t ever remember the unemployment rate in this region being lower than the national figure.  We just have to make sure that continues.” The LMIP figures show the Coffs-Grafton region fairing much better than its neighbours.  The New England and North West region had an unemployment rate of 8.8% with youth unemployment of 18.4%; The Richmond Tweed with unemployment of 9.5% and youth unemployment of 18.6%, and the Mid North Coast with 9.3% and youth unemployment of 14.9%. “Our unemployment rate has been trending well against national figures for a while, and council will do everything in its power to ensure that continues,” he said. “From the inquiries we are getting at council it is clear business is recognising the advantages of investing here. “We are in an ideal position to tap into national trucking transport networks, we have a stable workforce, a growing tourism industry, a strong aged care and health sector, a reliable water supply, decent infrastructure and plenty of land available for industry and development, as well as abundant residential land. “We tick a lot of boxes.” Cr Williamson said some of the improved unemployment figures could be attributed to infrastructure spending, but not all of it. “We were seeing improvements before the highway work started to the south of Grafton and we expect further improvements as the work – not just on the highway, but on the Grafton and Sportsmans Creek bridges, new gaol, Maclean supermarket and other projects – take effect,” he said. Cr Williamson said federal agencies also produced figures to a more localised level, and the latest of these were for the June quarter. “They’re pretty handy figures as well,” he said. “They showed the Grafton and the Maclean-Yamba-Iluka regions as having an unemployment rate of 6.6%. “On the Lower Clarence this was part of a downward trend from 7.9% in the December quarter 2014 to 7% in the March quarter this year and in June 6.6%. It’s a very similar story in the Grafton region – 7.7% in December 2014, 7% in March and 6.6% in June.