The hotspots where young people can’t find work and the rise of ‘survival jobs’

The Brotherhood of St Laurence revealed the youth unemployment hotspots.

The Brotherhood of St Laurence revealed the youth unemployment hotspots. Photo: Brotherhood of St Laurence

Young people are increasingly churned through unsustainable “survival jobs”, the Brotherhood of St Laurence has said after revealing the nation’s hotspots for youth unemployment.

The jobless rate for 15 to 24-year-olds is 11.2 per cent across the country, but as bad as 25.7 per cent in outback Queensland.

That’s five times worse than the overall unemployment rate of 5 per cent, according to the charity’s analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures.

The Coffs Harbour to Grafton region on the New South Wales mid-north coast – including Nambucca Heads, Bellingen, Yamba and Dorrigo – was the second worst in the country with a 23.3 per cent youth jobless rate.

In its report, the Brotherhood of St Laurence said young people were navigating a fundamentally different job market.

“Once upon a time people could start off on the factory floor and move into middle management,” Farah Farouque, Brotherhood of St Laurence principal adviser for public affairs and policy, told The New Daily.

“You had a job for life.”

She said most of the positions available for young people were “survival jobs”, and the difficulty was not just finding any job.

“The challenge is also to find secure, decent work that will enable young people to build sustainable futures,” she said.

“The gig economy also poses enormous challenges for young people because a gig economy does not a mortgage make, even a rent payment really.”

Ms Farouque said youth unemployment had not corrected since the global financial crisis.

“I think the key point is before the GFC hit Australia in 2008. Youth unemployment was considerably lower. It was not in double digits. We have not returned to pre-GFC levels,” she said.

“The GFC had some insidious effects for young people and just generally.

“Quite frankly, we don’t accept this as the new normal.”

The national youth unemployment figure of 11.2 per cent is below the post-GFC peak of 14.1 per cent in November 2014.

The top five worst areas for youth unemployment were all in regional Australia, while the top 20 also included outer-metropolitan suburbs.

Kerry Grace, director of Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast, said there were “pockets of high disadvantage in the regions”.

She said there was also a gap in the services to connect young people to the right training and the right jobs.

“We’ve met lots of young people who have numerous certificates but it doesn’t necessarily add up to employment,” Ms Grace told The New Daily.

She said 60 per cent of businesses in the region were micro businesses that did not employ people beyond the immediate owners.

That, along with a lack of public transport, made it difficult for young people to access opportunities.

There have been short-term gains in the hotspots, with two regions across the country tracking above 20 per cent in December 2018 compared with four regions in December 2017.

Nine of the regions with the highest levels of youth unemployment were also in the top 20 regions the year prior, with Queensland’s outback remaining worst of all.

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