TSBE CEO Ali Davenport at a Future Toowoomba meeting. August 2019
TSBE CEO Ali Davenport at a Future Toowoomba meeting. August 2019 Bev Lacey

Bid for better understanding of city's unemployment figures

THE Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce has called for the establishment of a jobs taskforce off the back of recent figures that show Toowoomba has the worst unemployment in the nation at 12.2 per cent.

The calls come as Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise CEO Ali Davenport said it was "difficult to see how Toowoomba could go from having one of the lowest unemployment rates in Australia to the highest".

Recent reports have also indicated that youth unemployment in Toowoomba had doubled in the course of the year.

Toowoomba Chamber CEO Todd Rohl said the figures were alarming given Toowoomba's diverse economy and outstanding liveability.

"We need more than ever to work together, as a matter of urgency, to evaluate and understand the cause of the latest unemployment figures and their impact on our business community and the overall Toowoomba region," he said.

Recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed the jobless rate in Toowoomba jumped from 7.2 per cent in March to 12.2 per cent in April.

Ms Davenport said the strangeness of the sudden shift in Toowoomba's unemployment figures was difficult to understand, given the economy was not strongly linked to tourism. 

"We're looking at the data and trying to make sense of where the job losses have come from, especially the industry sectors and whether this month's report is an anomaly.

"With unemployment rates, it's important to look at trends over time, rather than just one month, and normally unemployment data is analysed over a three-month period as a minimum."

Mr Rohl said now was the time for the region's leaders to act. 

"That is why we are calling for a Jobs Taskforce to be formed, building on the good work being undertaken by Regional Development Australia and the Toowoomba Regional Jobs Committee," Mr Rohl said.

"Business, community and government leaders must come together, and develop a practical, action orientated plan to address this issue, head on."

Chamber members are concerned about the figures, and are calling for immediate action. 

Lifeline Darling Downs CEO Derek Tuffield said the region's young people were the community's future. 

A spokesman for chamber member HB Group said youth unemployment was "very high" in Toowoomba, and it supported the implementation of a jobs taskforce.

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