Ugly truth: highest number of work-age people on welfare

AN EVER-growing proportion of retirees and people on social security are the main factors underlying dismal economic growth in the Wide Bay Burnett, a report has revealed.

The region has the worst unemployment rate in the country at 16.4% and the highest proportion of working-age people collecting social security, according to the Local Government Association.

The association released its State of the Regions Report yesterday, showing the Wide Bay Burnett fell from its 2010 economic growth ranking of 28 out of 67, down to 51 in 2013.

The Wide Bay's economic growth rate fell from 2.9% to 0.8% in that time.

It could have been worse, with other regions in Queensland in freefall in the rankings.

The Sunshine Coast fell from 10 to 59, the Gold Coast went from 7 to 41 and Mackay plummeted from 1 to 58.

The report stated the floods in recent years could have affected the Wide Bay Burnett's growth, but said ongoing problems related to higher numbers of retirees and those on welfare were the main contributors.

Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell said there were still some positives to take out of the report.

The region was listed as one of the six highest for population growth in the country.

"Yes, we've got our problems but we're still considered a good place to go."

Cr O'Connell said the report highlighted which regions had the best opportunities for growth and it was important for federal politicians to back plans for growth in those areas.

He said whichever party was elected federally in September, its leader needed to recognise and support opportunities in the marine and aviation industries for the Fraser Coast.

He said affordable land for industrial and residential purposes also presented opportunities.

"We need to make what's possible happen," he said.

Economic growth rankings in 2013

  • Wide Bay Burnett: 51
  • Sunshine Coast: 59
  • Mackay: 58
  • Gold Coast: 41
  • Gippsland (Vic): 67
  • Pilbara Kimberly (WA): 1


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