Workers who lost mining jobs have moved into other sectors
THERE'S no argument that the slowdown in the mining and resources sector has resulted in job losses.
It's the nature of such a demand-driven industry that when profit margins start to contract, costs will be cut and the easiest saving is reducing the size of the labour force.
While that isn't entirely positive for the sector itself, for regions with close ties to the mining and resources industry - like Mackay - it has actually had a positive impact.
Narelle Pearse, CEO of the Mackay and Whitsunday Regional Economic Development Corporation, said the Mackay region was enjoying an employment renaissance of sorts, as workers whose mining jobs have ended move back into other sectors.
"It has had a positive effect on employment, as industries like agriculture that found it difficult in the past to attract workers now have high numbers of skilled workers applying for their positions," Ms Pearse said.
"This is across all industries outside of mining."
Ms Pearse said regional employment would continue to be driven by the sectors that had previously lost workers to the mines, at least in the short term, before mining demand increased again.
"In the short term it will be filling the positions that were difficult to fill in the past due to the high demand from mining," she said.
"In the longer term, mining will once again drive employment."
Almost 1000km north of Brisbane and home to about 75,000, Mackay produces more than one third of Australia's sugar and is located in ideal proximity to the coal-rich Bowen Basin.
Ms Pearse said the region's sub-tropical locale proved a strong attraction for new residents.
"We have strong natural assets such as the Whitsunday Islands and beach, the rainforest up at Eungella and a vast rural landscape to the west," she said.
"Our social fabric is strong with good community stability and connectedness. We have a higher percentage of families with children living in the region than the Queensland average, indicating it is a good place to bring up a family. There are strong education facilities in the region, with two universities in Mackay (CQU and JCU)."