Unemployment Brian Jackson

Educated, but few jobs

THE Northern Rivers region is among the best for educating people, but when it comes to keeping them employed, it has been ranked one of the worst areas in Australia.

The Regional Australia Institute has ranked the Northern Rivers among 60 other regions in Australia in areas including labour market, innovation, infrastructure, economy, natural resources, demography and institutions.

The region's youth unemployment rate was ranked the fourth worst in the country with figures revealing 19.6% of the region's 15 to 24-year-olds are out of work.

The percentage of people aged 15 years or older in the workforce, a meagre 57.4%, was the seventh worst in Australia.

Northern Rivers was also ranked the seventh worst in Australia for having a high number of people, 38.2%, of the population dependent on welfare payments.

But figures showed the area ranked well when it came to educating people.

RAI deputy chief Jack Archer said the Northern Rivers had a good standard of the population with a qualification.

Early childhood development was also strong, with only 20% of the region's children developmentally vulnerable, ranking the area seventh of 60 in Australia.

"It's doing pretty well in terms of developing people and giving them educational opportunities for them to participate," Mr Archer said.

"But the weakness is labour market efficiency.

"It's that coastal story: you've got a great human capital base but it's not necessarily converting that into employment options.

"The longer people are out of jobs and not in the economy, the harder it gets to make it in the future."

The Northern Rivers also performed poorly in rankings for economic fundamentals, with the region the third worst in the country for having low working hours.

Figures showed the average number of hours worked was 19.6 hours a week.



Average wage $22,802

73.4% of households have internet

86% of the region has mobile phone coverage

16.9% of the population has a degree

Business turnover was $28,907 per person in 2013

59.7% of adults did not complete Year 12

Average travel distance to nearest high school 7.9km; average distance to medical facility 8.7km

Local government spent $176.32 per person on roads and general spending in 2010-11

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