Economist Colin Dwyer said the Mackay Isaac Whitsunday region’s momentum had been put on hold by coronavirus related job losses.
Economist Colin Dwyer said the Mackay Isaac Whitsunday region’s momentum had been put on hold by coronavirus related job losses.

Mackay region’s ‘decent’ jobs momentum put on hold

MACKAY'S unemployment rate was improving just as the region was hit by coronavirus restrictions.

Regional Labour Force statistics for March show prior to lockdown, the region had more jobs and more people participating in the workforce than it did in February.

The data showed the number of unemployed people across the Mackay Isaac Whitsunday region dropped from 5.8 per cent to 5.3 per cent - lower than the state rate of 6.1 per cent.

DS Economics regional economist Colin Dwyer said the numbers showed Mackay's regional workforce and wider economy were performing "solidly" in the lead-up to COVID-19 restrictions and that decent momentum had been put on hold.

"The Mackay region had close to traditional full employment and it was one of Queensland's job creator regions," he said.

Mr Dwyer predicted a marked increase in the region's unemployment next month, considering the huge job losses across the frozen Whitsundays tourism sector.

Depending on the take-up of the JobKeeper stimulus, he said that between nine and 12 per cent of people could be out of work.

Despite the month on month growth, LNP Deputy Leader Tim Mander slammed the stats, which showed a long-term rise in unemployment over the past year and high youth unemployment.

Mr Mander said the region was "in terrible shape prior to coronavirus" because of economic mismanagement.

Over the past year, the region's unemployment grew 1.3 per cent compared to March 2019.

However, the annual change recorded between February 2019 and February 2020 showed a drop in unemployment of 2.1 per cent.