SOUTH-WEST households have become $72,000 wealthier over the past 12 months and are now better off than the rest of regional Victoria, according to new data.
Research commissioned by the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) listed the Western District as Victoria’s most prosperous region outside Melbourne, with wealth per household at $777,000 on average.
The State of the Regions report was presented to the ALGA national conference this week and also highlighted south-west Victoria’s high youth unemployment rate.
National Economics report co-author Peter Hylands said there were a number of factors driving the divide between the region’s overall prosperity and school leavers struggling to find work.
He said the Victorian economy had been weak during the past six years compared to resource-rich Western Australia.
“The late 2000s mining boom had an inflationary factor on the Australian dollar, which was fine for Western Australia but created real problems for Victoria’s manufacturing sector,” Mr Hylands said.
“Even in areas where manufacturing was not as visible, there was a flow-on effect in regards to consumer confidence, employers either delaying staffing appointments or reducing staff.”
Average household wealth in the Western District is more than $100,000 in front of second-placegetter Greater Geelong with a $665,000 average, followed by Gippsland at $610,000, Ballarat and Wimmera regions at $565,000, the Mallee and Bendigo regions at $555,000 and the Goulburn Valley $537,000.
Mr Hylands said average household wealth was determined by house values, shareholdings, other property and assets, and disposable income minus debt servicing costs.
“Household wealth has increased across all Victorian regions during the past 12 months,” he said.
“This represents a reversal of what we saw between 2009 and 2011 when Australia was in the middle of an economic downturn. However, Victoria is not out of the woods, especially in areas dependent on car manufacturing and associated industry. They have a tough few years ahead of them.”
The region’s economic revival in terms of household wealth occurred two years ago, increasing from $599,000 in 2011 to $630,000 in 2012.
Researchers believe improved rainfall, boosted dairy and wool export prices and the softening of the Australian dollar all contributed to the turnaround.