Jobless figures: too bad to be true?

SOUTH-WEST Victorian leaders are baffled by two reports which show the region has some of the worst jobless rates in the state.

The Brotherhood of  St Laurence yesterday said in the past two years youth unemployment in Warrnambool and other parts of the south-west rose 36 per cent and stood at 16.6 per cent in February.

Based on that rate, it predicted the region’s jobless youth level would hit 22.5 per cent by 2016 — higher than any other region of Victoria.

It follows a statement last week from Labor’s spokesman for unemployment Tim Pallas  claiming 5508 jobs overall were lost in Warrnambool and the south-west last month alone and unemployment rose 4.4 per cent to 8.9 per cent.

In comparison, Geelong’s jobless rate rose only 1.7 per cent to 6.7 per cent with 815 jobs lost, he said.

Both reports were said to be based on Australian Bureau of  Statistics figures, but further details were not forthcoming yesterday.

 Great South Coast group of municipalities chairman Cr Chris O’Connor of Terang said he was puzzled by the reports and questioned how the ABS statistics had been interpreted.

“I’m very surprised and would question the prediction,” he said.

“Our population is growing slightly and agriculture on which our region depends has turned the corner in the past six months.

“Maybe our low year 12 attainment level is biting, especially when blue-collar jobs are scarcer.

“Certainly the exodus of young people to the metropolitan area for education or work continues, but they want to spread their wings elsewhere for a while and often return with qualifications and work skills.”

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