Number of unemployed in Gladstone increases 3.1%

A GROWING number of Gladstone residents are relying on unemployment benefits and youth allowance - a trend that could result in more long term unemployment.

There were 1312 Gladstone residents on Newstart and Youth Allowance in January - an increase of 3.1% on December 2014.

However, the increase was among the lowest in the state and below the 4.8% statewide increase.

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Over the same time period there was a 3.7% increase in Biloela, to 250 recipients.

The rise was reflected statewide - following an increase in Queensland's unemployment rate to the start of 2015.

Newstart is an unemployment benefit paid to people over 22 who meet income and asset tests and are looking for paid work.

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Youth Allowance is a benefit for unemployed 16 to 21-year-olds, full time students aged between 18 and 24, or 16 to 24-year-olds undertaking a full-time apprenticeship.

Queensland University of Technology senior economics lecturer Dipa Sarkar said the increase was reflective of growing youth unemployment across regional Queensland.

"Youth unemployment is... much worse in regional Queensland," she said.

"Regional areas are much more dependent on certain sectors to perform - and when they struggle that means less jobs."

When asked if the January rise was related to fewer jobs after Christmas or people signing up to Youth Allowance before the university semester, Dr Sarkar said the rise was in line with the growing unemployment rate.

She said growing youth unemployment could result in a long-term struggle to get work.

"This could be more long term than short term. When people, especially young people, struggle to get work, it's almost like a black mark against them," she said.

"If you're not able to find a job then it can be harder and harder to do so.

"It can become a spiral."

However, Dr Sarkar said government initiatives aimed at reducing youth unemployment were working well.

She said she expected the schemes would have an impact on youth unemployment in coming years.

- APN NEWSDESK



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